our employee is taking nude photos in our office and posting them to Facebook

I’m off for the holiday, so here’s an older post from the archives. This was originally published in 2018.

A reader writes:

I am the office manager of a small (two additional employees, two doctors, and one therapist) health practice. One employee, who I will call Jane, has worked there for over 10 years and handles billing, front desk, and bookkeeping.

Jane is recently divorced and seems to be going through a mid-life crisis of sorts with an obsession on finding new sex partners. She lists our company name as her place of employment on Facebook and some of our patients are her “friends.” We found out through our other employee (who I will call Mary) and our therapist (who I will call Sara) that Jane is now a member of several Facebook groups where people can post suggestive to explicit photos and videos. When we first learned of this, we let Jane know that we were aware and asked her to take anything that linked her Facebook account to us out of her profile or to create an alternate account for her extracurricular activities that we wanted to remain separate as her personal business. She became irate, saying that our awareness of it created a “hostile work environment” for her. She also threatened to sue Mary for informing us. But then some time passed and she seemed to calm down.

In the past few days, however, it was brought to my and the doctors’ attention that not only is Jane continuing to post these things, she is taking and posting the photos daily from our business. Our company bathroom is in the background of some of them as well as the office her and I share (I am in the office part-time). One of the photos described to me is a full photo of her standing in front of my desk with her pants around her ankles. The time stamps show that it is during work hours (there are times each day where she is the only employee in the office).

I am at a loss for how to handle this appropriately and what to do. She even invited a patient who works at a business in our center to be a member of one of the groups. Obviously her doing this from work and involving anything linked to the office has got to stop. Yesterday she went to use the bathroom (which is private) at least four times, staying in there for over 10 minutes each time with her phone in hand and all I could do was picture what she could be doing in there.

Given her experience and high degree of responsibility, it would be an enormous task to replace her, and believe it or not otherwise her job performance is very good. Any advice at all as to how to handle this would be greatly appreciated.

You get to draw the line at people taking nude photos in your office. That’s not okay, and you don’t need to tip-toe around that with her.

And you know, one day Jane will leave of her own volition, and then you will have the work of replacing her at that point anyway. So don’t be held hostage to your fear of having to do that now, to the point that you tolerate totally unacceptable behavior in your office.

Sometimes you need to be willing to let someone go. An employee taking nude photos of herself in your office — in front of your desk! — and posting them to Facebook, where she’s connected with some of your clients, is one of those times.

This would be bizarrely bad judgment under any circumstances, but it’s even odder because Jane knows that you know about her involvement with the explicit-photo groups. You’ve already told her that your business can’t be associated with it. And after that conversation, she seems to have escalated the behavior by posing for the photos in your office. Frankly, it almost seems like a compulsion or an act of hostility toward your office, or both.

It would be 100% reasonable to tell Jane that this needs to stop immediately and all photos taken in your office need to be removed, and that this will be her last warning on the topic and you’ll part ways with her if it continues.

It would also be entirely reasonable to decide that Jane has already demonstrated such terrible judgment that you’re not going to go through a warning process and instead will part ways now. You don’t owe someone a warning and a second chance when something is this egregious (or at least you don’t as long as your own internal policies don’t require it).

To be clear, the issue isn’t that Jane is sharing nude photos of herself in her personal life. That’s her business. The issue originally was that she was connected to clients while doing it, and the issue now is that she’s doing it at work. Keep the focus there.

But before you can do any of that, you need to convince yourself that the fact that it’ll be a pain to replace her isn’t a reason not to take action on something like this. You can’t let your organization be held hostage to that. (And really, how far does that go? What if she starts slapping your logo on these nude photos? ) There’s a point where someone’s behavior just isn’t okay, and this is at that point.

And in case you need it — hostile workplace: it’s not what you think.

{ 161 comments… read them below }

  1. Czhorat*

    I wonder what happened with this employee. In some ways I feel sorry for her because she clearly has some issues leading to a shocking lapse in judgement. In other ways, I get that the employer can’t let it become their problem after an explicit order to stop.

    The most frustrating thing is another misuse of “hostile work environment”. That’s a legal concept that MEANS something. We can’t let people use it to mean “a workplace where I, personally, am unhappy at having received even the mildest criticism for the most egregious behaviour”

    1. Random Dice*

      And also… firing her now would be instead of giving her a THIRD chance. That’s what the first talking-to was about.

      1. MigraineMonth*

        Yeah, I’m unclear what happened after the first “remove all references to our company from your risque account” conversation. It sounds like she refused and threatened to sue and the LW just… let it go? No wonder she seems to think she can get away with anything.

    2. Helen J*

      I wonder if employers placed a poster-sized description about what constitutes a “hostile work environment” in employee areas would that help people to understand what a hostile work environment is.

      If you work in a toxic place with unpleasant people and tyrannical bosses it can certainly feel hostile, but being unpleasant and tyrannical it’s illegal (unfortunately).

      1. Elizabeth the*

        Unless it were part of a much bigger display about employee rights, I feel like the employer hanging up a sign that about how many things aren’t a hostile environment would feel a bit like the employers saying “hey FYI it’s legal for us to be jerks to you” – which is true, but also, when someone points out to me that they’re not legally obligated to be nice to me, I take that as a hint that this might not be someone I want to spend much time with.

        1. Rainbow*

          Uh yes, absolutely. That gives a feeling like the workplace is trying to take the place of the arbiter of what’s hostile, rather than the law (even if they just recant the law).

      2. KatEnigma*

        The employer would have to understand the definition. If they did, LW would have just fired Jane when she threatened to sue.

    3. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

      Yeah, you can’t be mad that people found out about a thing you posted in a public forum. I feel sorry for Jane, but this is all so inappropriate.

      1. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

        Right? This is one of the times that shows me how long I’ve been reading AAM, because I remember reading this letter when it was new.

    4. HotSauce*

      Is it weird that I don’t feel bad for this person at all? They were asked to disassociate this behavior from work and instead of following directions they dug in and took it further. There’s a lack of judgement and then there’s willful defiance. I would terminate immediately.

      1. Flowers*

        You’re not alone – I don’t at all.

        It’s one thing to – say – take sexy selfies in the office bathroom to share privately.

        It’s another thing entirely to basically link yourself to this company, and then pose naked on/next to a coworkers desk AFTER being told to stop – like wtaf.

        1. Isabel Archer*

          “It’s one thing to – say – take sexy selfies in the office bathroom to share privately.”

          Umm, no it isn’t. Jane is AT WORK.

          1. Smurfette*

            Agreed, but on the sliding scale of Completely Fine to You’re Fired, sending nude pics (taken on company time / in the office bathroom) to one person is slightly less unacceptable than sharing them on social media.

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        Nope, especially when they threw a fit about a hostile work environment and suing when they post these photos in public forums!

      3. Artemesia*

        This. I cannot fathom a competent management that would not have fired her the first time those nude photos from the office appeared AFTER they had told her to distance her hobby from her employment.

    1. Zephy*

      She’s already been given a warning, and that’s not a reason *not* to address this behavior. I hope Jane got the help she needs.

      1. Elitist Semicolon*

        Yeah, that’s even MORE of a reason to let her go. An employee who will (or even might) retaliate by sabotaging the businesses not a good employee worth keeping.

    2. Dover*

      100%! If the office doesn’t already have a recovery plan with routine backups in place, make that a top priority. If it is already in place, now’s a great time to verify its integrity.

      I wouldn’t *assume* that she would do anything nefarious, but recognize that it’s a possibility and be cognizant.

  2. Stitch*

    Oh good lord. Fire her! She’s taking nude photos in your office. This is clearly clearly not okay. And she works in a medical office! Her judgment and boundaries are clearly off, you should not be trusting her with confidential patient info.

    Fire her. This shouldn’t be something you hesitate about even slightly.

    1. Czhorat*

      I always am in favor of giving as many chances as is at all reasonable before firing someone; if the last warning wasn’t sufficient I’d be fine with, as Allison said, a very clear “if all of the photos of the office aren’t gone by start of business tomorrow you’re going to be fired. If another photo appears in this office you’ll be fired. This is the last discussion on the topic and your final warning”.

      Sometimes there’s a culture in which people don’t really believe there will be a real consequence; I’m OK with hammering that home one final time.

      1. Stitch*

        I disagree. This is not a second chance situation. She’s taking nude photos at work and propositioning patients.

        There are offenses bad enough that you don’t give warnings.

        1. Wears clothes*

          She took a picture of herself naked beside her bosses desk. That’s pretty creepy. I would feel oddly violated if someone took naked pics beside my desk.

          1. goddessoftransitory*

            I would want to burn the desk, frankly. (And who knows what other of the LW’s personal things are viewable in that picture??)

        2. Venus*

          Circumstances matter, and OP was clear that they wanted to avoid firing a valuable employee who had previously been rational. I think that firing should be a strong option, yet Czhorat’s approach of one final warning does seem reasonable.

          1. Venus*

            Although I was reminded by a comment below that Jane’s reaction would likely result in her being fired within the hour if her previous reaction is any indication of the future outcome.

          2. Stitch*

            Keeping her they risk losing other employees and, crucially, patients. Do they really want the rep as the medical office where an employee shares nude photos with patients?

            1. Venus*

              The expectation was that the employee would change by the next morning. That shouldn’t change the risk of losing other employees.

              I’m also thinking that this person is very likely to cause problems when they are fired, so it seems better to give them one last chance with a very short timeline and hope that they quit.

              1. Hannah Lee*

                Any employee who is “very likely to cause problems when they are fired” in a situation like this should be fired sooner rather than later.

              2. Grizabella the Glamour Cat*

                This is a case where, immediately after firing, you have IT cancel all her logins, and you walk her to her desk and watch while she packs up and gets tf out. So that she doesn’t have a chance to sabotage anything.

          3. Observer*

            Circumstances matter, and OP was clear that they wanted to avoid firing a valuable employee who had previously been rational. I think that firing should be a strong option, yet Czhorat’s approach of one final warning does seem reasonable.

            No. Circumstances matter and the circumstances here were such that the OP’s desire to avoid firing was NOT a reasonable approach.

            Keep in mind that she had been warned already and responded by *increasing* the misbehavior. And that she was doing something that was almost certainly illegal by exposing people’s status as patients of the practice.

          4. Clobberin' Time*

            It is not reasonable. It is the equivalent of a parent telling a misbehaving child “and I really mean it this time!” when threatening consequences.

      2. Observer*

        I always am in favor of giving as many chances as is at all reasonable before firing someone;

        And in a situation like this zero is unfortunately the only reasonable number. She’s already been warned and doubled down. And she’s done things that are commonly known to be a firing offense (even at the time this letter was written) as well as opening the place to legal jeopardy.

        I’d be fine with, as Allison said, a very clear “if all of the photos of the office aren’t gone by start of business tomorrow you’re going to be fired. If another photo appears in this office you’ll be fired. This is the last discussion on the topic and your final warning”.

        Given her behavior, that was already too much leeway. This was someone who could easily have doubled down and done even more damage.

      3. somanyquestions*

        No, you just fire someone who is ridiculous enough to take pictures of herself naked in your office during work hours. Why in the world would you give them multiple chances, this person who has already thrown a tantrum when asked to keep their business out of her sex life?

        No one is that valuable and I wouldn’t be able to trust her judgement in any other area if she’s so unstable this seems OK.

        1. whingedrinking*

          If someone’s been working for you for ten years and they suddenly have a shift from consummate professionalism to bananacrackers inappropriateness, I can understand why you’d want to interrogate the issue – you know the person well, you know that they’re not always like this, and if it’s a sudden shift, you might be concerned about their mental health.
          That doesn’t mean you’re obliged to keep the person on board if they refuse to fix the problem, of course, but it might be a reason to choose “this has to stop” ahead of “get out now”.

          1. Observer*

            Except that they TRIED to tell them that. At that point, they really don’t have a choice.

            And let’s be real. The OP’s issue was not “I feel bad and am concerned about Jane. How can I help her?” But “I don’t want to deal with the hassle of replacing Jane.”

            Which is OK. At this point the OP is well within their rights to think about the impact to their employer vs trying to figure out what’s going on. But even if their primary concern was for Jane, they really wouldn’t have much choice. And it seems to me that Jane was at a point where only bottoming out might force her to confront her issues.

            1. whingedrinking*

              Oh, absolutely. I was more responding to, “Why wouldn’t you fire someone immediately when you discovered them taking naked pictures?”. I’m just suggesting that finding someone doing that on their second day at the office is a different thing from them suddenly starting after a decade on the job.

          2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

            Agreed – I can have sympathy for them that something is so off in their world that they are now acting polar opposite of their prior actions – but that doesn’t mean I have to continue to employ someone who doubled down on the disrespectful choices when told they need to stop.

            At least back then (because this was a pre-pandemic letter) there were services that could get you a temporary office manager while you sorted things out. Now a days those places are probably stretched just as thin as most of the medical world is.

      4. Artemesia*

        You give people chances to improve their skills; you give chances when they have a lapse in judgment that they recognize and are committed to remedy. NOT when they threaten to sue you or when they are doing things so egregious. Even if she had never been ‘talked to’, the first time the nude photos appeared taken in the office, she should have been fired, given two weeks severance and walked.

      5. Observer*

        Sure. But that’s not really relevant here. There is nothing remotely “small” about anything described here.

    2. goddessoftransitory*

      Somebody who would be this boundary-bouncing would also, in my mind, be high risk for reading or sharing private medical or other information and opening the business up to all kinds of terrible and unpleasant consequences, legal and otherwise. The fact that Jane asked a client to join this Facebook group already crossed that line, really.

  3. The Original K.*

    Oh-ho-ho, I remember this letter! Jane was a piece of work. If I recall correctly, the overwhelming response was “Just fire her, my God.”

    1. Stitch*

      I honestly don’t know how anyone could think that this isn’t a fireable situation. It’s not even close.

      And yeah, replacing a medical office manager sucks, but there are absolutely services that will send someone same day. I know this because my Dad’s practice unexpectedly lost their beloved office manager when she was severely injured in a car wreck (she ended up taking her retirement a year early). They were able to get a temp (who eventually took over the job) same day.

      1. The Original K.*

        Right! People were like “She’s an office manager. You can find another one.” Even if they didn’t fire her for this, she’d leave eventually (new job, retirement, or God forbid, death) and they’d have to replace her. Just do it!

      2. lifebeforecorona*

        The Queen passed away and there was no bother about finding a replacement. Everyone can be replaced sooner or later.

    2. Heidi*

      It’s interesting that the OP understands that the behavior needs to stop, but is hesistant to take the one step that will definitely make it stop. But if this doesn’t merit firing, then what does? I also think it would be better to do it sooner. Otherwise, you run the risk of it all getting out there at some point and your business becomes known as the one with the naked pictures.

      1. Observer*

        But if this doesn’t merit firing, then what does?

        Really! It boggles my mind that anyone is even questioning whether this is something you need to “counsel” someone on.

  4. Dodubln*

    As an office manager myself for a similarly sized medical practice, this has always been one of my favorite letters, for the sheer audacity of it all. I would have terminated her immediately when she complained about the “hostile work environment” and threatened to sue the other employee, let alone when she started taking the pictures at work and also friending patients on Facebook (big no-no). This is one of those cases where an employee is somehow seen as “indispensable” by management, when in fact something could happen to her that rendered her unable to do her job permanently, so they would have to replace her anyways. I will never understand this thought process. I wish there had been an update to this letter, because if the OM did fire her as she should have, I would love to know how Jane reacted.

    1. irene adler*

      There are some actions that should trigger immediate termination. This is one of them.

      (In what universe would this be acceptable employee behavior??)

      I think there’s a school of thought where “indispensable” really means it’s just too much hassle for management to replace this person. There’s that hope that someone out there knows some magic words that will make the troublesome employee straighten out and cease any further bad actions. Then the problem is solved.

      1. Dodubln*

        On the side, I do practice management consulting for other medical practices, and I have advised three practices in the past to terminate an employee. None of the employees were doing anything nearly as egregious as Jane, but in each case they were bringing down the morale of the other employees, being rude to patients, and a host of other things that you never want to see in a medical practice. (Or anywhere else for that matter!) Every single time I first suggested to the OM/doctor/owner of the practice to terminate the employee, I was told: “But we really need them! They have been here for years! Who else can do what they do?”. Oh, I don’t know…THOUSANDS of other people? Although it took some doing, in each case, I prevailed and the employee was terminated, and quickly replaced with someone new who was stellar. And that is when I always got the: “We wish we had fired so and so when you first told us to!”. Uh-huh. Me too.

    2. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

      Friending patients with a personal account on Facebook seems like a really bad idea, just in general. I have friends who are therapists and they do lots of stuff to keep their clients from even finding them on social media, let alone friending them. It’s important to maintain professional boundaries when you’re providing healthcare.

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        The only time I could see this as not being completely out of line is if the practice was the only one in town, and everybody knew and was friends with everybody anyways.

        But those size towns are disappearing quickly.

      2. Slow Gin Lizz*

        I would think that that alone would be a fireable offense. Or at least cause for a final warning before firing someone. The rest of this…well, totally a fireable offense.

    3. somanyquestions*

      OP thinks Jane is indispensable but really as an outsider all I keep thinking is “OMG how can you let that person do your books? Is anyone auditing those?” because Jane is not living in the same reality as the rest of us.

      This person is a huge liability and keeping her is a very weird choice.

    4. Czhorat*

      The day Jane is gone forever:

      “Did you hear that Jane threatened to quit today?”

      “No, I didn’t. Do you know who ordered this giant delivery of cod?”

    5. goddessoftransitory*

      And the thing is; that thing that renders her unable to do the job? Has already happened. This was it. Somebody flaunting their bare bits BY MY DESK is it!

      This isn’t as permanent to the offender as death or moving or illness is, but it sure is to the business she’s dragging through her personal whatever.

    6. Luna*

      The term indispensable makes me think of a Not Always Working story, where someone was considered ‘indispensable’ in a deli and they requested a transfer because they wanted to move in with their fiancée in a different state. And the manager just kept dangling them along, saying they will do it, but not now because this or that reason. It took them a long time, and encouragement from the fiancée, to quit immediately.
      Never consider yourself indispensable. And never believe anyone that actually treats you as indispensable because, if they do, it’s probably not worth it.

      1. Sara without an H*

        A lot of them, apparently. I was hitting the “Surprise Me” button this morning while I ate breakfast and turned up several letters from managers to the effect that, “I’ve told my Report eleventy-one times that [insert description of bonkers behavior] is unacceptable, how do I phrase my VERY LAST WARNING???”

        Most supervisors/managers are untrained, or have had very minimal training. It can be very hard to recognize that one more pep talk won’t turn a Problematic Employee around and that, in fairness to your other employees and to your customers, you’re going to have to let this one go.

        1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          In all fairness – I think there can be a bit of a shock factor as well when the behavior is as out there as Jane’s is. Some people get away with living in their own reality because they’re so far out there they leave the rest of us shocked and tongue-tied (at least temporarily).

  5. Engineer*

    The fact the original weblink was “Jane has lost her mind” is still just *chef’s kiss.* Some good discussion in the original comments on refuge in audacity and how to stand firm.

  6. Jake*

    I’m surprised the reply doesn’t say more to address the fact that an employee _at a medical practice_ invited a _patient at the practice_ to look at her nude photos.

    How is that not an immediately firable offence? How can you let that person come back into the office even one more time after that?

    1. Random Dice*


      1) Employee of a medical practice connected with patients IRL.

      2) Employee who is connected with patients IRL is posting inappropriate content that those patients can see, and which is done during work hours and on work property.

      3) When gently confronted, employee didn’t apologize (mortified) and fix it like a reasonable person… But instead became aggressive and threatened to sue.

      4) Employee increased the inappropriate sexual behavior during work hours and at the workplace, including doing it next to her boss’ desk.

      I mean, WTF.

    2. learnedthehardway*

      Yes – that as my first thought, as soon as I saw the comment – getting her away from patients is even more important than dealing with the office nude photos.

  7. Jake*

    I’m surprised the reply doesn’t say more to address the fact that an employee _at a medical practice_ invited a _patient at the practice_ to look at her nude photos.

    How is that not an immediately firable offence? How can you let that person come back into the office even one more time after that?

  8. CLC*

    It seems so odd that the OP here is so worried about having to replace her. Hiring and on-boarding new people is always a chore, but surely there are qualified medical billing specialists and bookkeepers out there who don’t take nude photos of themselves in the office?

    1. Somehow_I_Manage*

      They’re not really worried about that. They were just grasping and hoping for any reason not to have to follow through on what needed to be done. I can only imagine that even a well handled firing would be exceptionally unpleasant with this particular employee.

  9. EUXDirector*

    What if her behavior escalated to creating a duck club and inviting members to participate at your office? That’s wild and maybe far fetched but could happen. Let her go…

    1. Artemesia*

      WELL as long as they just humped in the supply closet during their coffee breaks, why would it matter?

      1. Splendid Colors*

        Why limit activity to supply closets, when a medical office has examination tables?

        Hey OP, has your office been going through exam table tissue unusually rapidly of late?

  10. lilsheba*

    I really hope this person was fired at some point. That kind of behavior at work is just disgusting. If you want to do that at home great go for it, but NOT at work!

  11. PsychNurse*

    I don’t want my comment to get moderated for armchair diagnosing, but I do want to say– for anyone who encounters something similar from a woman in middle age, which I think Jane probably is because she’s 10 years into this job– it is not uncommon for a woman who has not previously had a mental illness to experience the first signs of it in her 40s. Certain mental illnesses, especially in women, have a bi-phasic pattern, meaning that most people get diagnosed in their early 20s, and then there’s another peak around age 45. Jane’s hypersexual behavior and out-of-character terrible judgement point in that direction. She still needs to be fired, but she may need to be fired with a gentle discussion about how to find a psychiatrist for evaluation.

    1. I should really pick a name*

      I don’t think the person firing her is really in a position to provide that advice.

      1. Bread Crimes*

        Yeah, I feel that someone who needs a psychiatric evaluation is probably least open to that suggestion coming from the person firing them at the time.

    2. Pierrot*

      I think this is important information but more for the context of understanding our own mental health or close friends/relatives. It’s not really appropriate for a boss to bring this up when firing someone. If there’s an EAP, a boss/HR can refer an employee to it but this sounds like too small of a workplace for that, and the behavior itself has gotten to the point that it warrants firing ASAP.
      Regardless of the diagnosis, I do hope that this was a wake-up call for Jane and she was able to seek professional help. I have Bipolar Disorder and understand what it’s like to have a manic episode- I think that if Jane has already threatened to sue her boss when she was told not to take nudes at work & post them online, she would not be receptive to that same boss telling her to get a psychiatric evaluation.

  12. Catwhisperer*

    I truly don’t understand the vast difference in Alison’s response between this and the employee who was caught getting fondled in her car in the company parking lot. Both are doing overtly sexual acts on company property, I would think both should be fired.

    1. Kr*

      In that one the manager had taken it to corporate HR and they had told her to back off. I figured there’s a reason corporate took that stance based on the facts they had.

      1. Catwhisperer*

        I can see that. I personally think that employees engaging in any type of sexual behavior on company property poses too high of a liability to the company and that anyone caught doing it should be fired immediately.

    2. Observer*

      There is no comparison between the two situations.

      The comparison is SOO odd, that I can’t really imagine why you are even bringing it up.

      1. NeutralJanet*

        There’s no comparison between them? Really? You don’t see any relationship between Jane trying to solicit sexual partners (and presumably receiving some sort of gratification from taking/sending nudes) at work and the other employee having sex at work?

        1. linger*

          To mark some of the crucial differences, Jane’s actions were:
          * “identifiably inside company offices” vs. “on company land, but inside private car”
          * “seeking to engage clients” vs. “with own partner”
          * “within work hours” vs. “outside work hours”
          On all of these points, Jane is more directly threatening the corporate image.
          (Which is presumably why corporate decided not to pursue anything in the latter case.)

    3. HR Friend*

      I agree with you and said so on the previous post. Comments on the parking lot post were banana bonkers, insinuating that the employee was protected because they were in a car. They were engaging in sexual activity in full view of their coworkers, on company property, during scheduled work time (they were late). That employee should have received the same response Jane did on this post — immediate termination.

      And fwiw the people below here, replying to you that you’re nuts for conflating the two situations are also wrong. It’s the same scenario. And both people should be fired.

  13. Czhorat*

    In the case of the employee caught in the car the manager who wrote in was already told by their superiors in corporate to let it drop. It was again a *severe* lapse in judgement, but the two circumstances are very different.

    Jane was using the actual office as a setting for sexual images *even after being told to stop*. It was an ongoing issue which even appeared to escalate.

    The other employee could have been a one-time dalliance in the parking lot with her boyfriend. Is it OK? Absolutely not. If it doesn’t recur is it worth firing her over? I’d say no.

    1. Observer*

      Also, Jane was reaching out to patients of the practice on social media.

      Even without the rest of it, that was a firing offense on its own.

      1. Czhorat*

        Yeah, that’s a big part of it.

        Allison has said that firing isn’t really punitive, but a judgement that the company is better off without you working there than with you. In the case of the employee who got caught in a compromising position with her boyfriend in the parking lot once? It’s likely that it will never happen again.

        In the case of someone who willfully used the office as a setting for erotic photos AFTER BEING TOLD TO STOP and appears to be escalating AND is involving patients? I know I advocated one last chance, but that should be the very most she gets.

  14. Czhorat*

    I’m just going to comment that you guys all told me that I couldn’t bring my ukulele to the office.

    At least I’m usually clothed when I’m playing it.

    1. Catwhisperer*

      I feel like ukulele playing deserves a second chance, but not sexual behavior on company property.

      1. Czhorat*

        I’m an early riser and tend to do ukulele and/or banjo practice at 5AM before everyone else is awake. I’ll often be in my robe and pajamas.

        Sorry to disappoint, but it isn’t less than that.

        1. Not Totally Subclinical*

          Okay, ukulele is forgivable, but banjo? (Insert the Austin Lounge Lizards song “Banjo Players in Heaven” here.)

    2. RedinSC*

      Years ago I worked at a place where a ukelele group would meet at lunch and play. That was pretty fun, actually. It was always during their lunch break, and IDK if anyone ever complained or not. I enjoyed it.

  15. Somehow_I_Manage*

    This really underscores how unpleasant and difficult it is to follow through and fire somebody. I am certain that this specific situation is one that OP *never* envisioned they would be responsible for resolving- part of this post was them coming to terms with that.

  16. V2*

    Anyone else reminded of that Seinfeld episode?

    Boss: I’m going to get right to the point. It has come to my attention that you and the cleaning woman have engaged in sexual intercourse on the desk in your office. Is that correct?
    George: Who said that?
    Boss: She did.
    George: Was that wrong? Should I have not done that? I tell you I gotta plead ignorance on this thing because if anyone had said anything to me at all when I first started here that that sort of thing was frowned upon, you know, cause I’ve worked in a lot of offices and I tell you people do that all the time.

    1. Crazy Dog Lady*

      I was told that I should explicitly spell out in our employee handbook that stealing was illegal and a fireable offense. I needed to spell out that taking money from the register, taking money from a customer and putting it in your pocket, swiping a CC on your personal square instead is the company CC machine, taking home inventory, etc. was stealing. Otherwise, they will claim they didn’t know they couldn’t do these things. This came from more than 1 attorney, a private investigator, and a sheriff’s deputy. Apparently a lot of people have made this claim in our area before.

  17. A CAD Monkey*

    i’m wondering* if this could fall afoul of privacy laws (HIPAA) as she has access to private patient info and is using her personal FB account to connect to patients. another is she has taken pictures in front of the office desks, is there info visible in those pics?

    (*not a lawyer or medical professional so this is based on surface level understanding of the laws)

  18. Flowers*

    Oh my god I remember that letter! I’m cringing so hard just reading all of this. Wth is Jane thinking? NONE OF THIS IS OK!!!!!!!!!!

      1. Lirael*

        Either that or OP is out there somewhere saying to Jane “THIS REALLY IS YOUR LAST CHANCE THIS TIME!!”

  19. Delta Delta*

    Now that I’m seeing this I’m reminded of the original letter, and I wish this was one where there was an update. I think the move would be for the owners/ceo/higher ups at the company to wait til Jane goes home for the day, lock her out of all the files, etc. and have her passwords changed. then when she comes in the next morning to terminate her. It would be bad if she got fired and somehow still had access to patient info and files.

    1. Grizabella the Glamour Cat*

      Sounds like an excellent plan.

      Personally, I would not trust Jane any farther than I could throw her.

  20. Jam on Toast*

    On a funnier, but related tangent, the receptionist at my long-time GP told me a funny story about how their office kept being mistaken for a place where one would take the kind of photos that Jane seems to enjoy. Somehow or other, when their office first opened 30 or so years ago, they ended up with a number that had been previously assigned. Big city, pre-cellphone, it happened and Bell would never tell you who it had belonged to. You just got the number. Every couple of months though, she’d get these odd phone calls from random people wanting to book a photo session. She’d apologize, and tell them this was a doctor’s office and they had a wrong number, but it happened often enough that she started wonder. It wasn’t until someone called and started describing the *types* of photos they wanted to book that she realized their phone number must have belonged to a photographer specializing in photos of an…intimate and adult nature. As she said to me dryly, “We get a lot of people taking their clothes off in this office, but we don’t do photos!”

    1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      That, as much as the drudgery of having to update *everything*, is why I fear getting a new phone number.

    2. Luna*

      Well, it’s a doctor’s office, so if they do take pictures, it’s either close-ups of wounds, moles, etc for visual documentation on size or they are x-rays. And those are not very titillating to see.

  21. I should really pick a name*

    The time stamps show that it is during work hours

    You can still fire someone for taking naked photos in the office even if it’s after hours.

    1. Czhorat*

      I think part of the issue is that when Jane was supposed to be working she was instead taking racy photos.

      Granted, extra break time is the very least of anyone’s concerns here.

      1. Burger Bob*

        Also that when it was photos in the bathroom, it could have been argued that maybe it was another bathroom that just looked very similar (they do tend to all look alike). But if it was taken during work hours, there’s not much wiggle room for which bathroom it could have been.

  22. E*

    She took naked photos next to your desk… fire her. Personally as a client or customer perspective I don’t know how much I’d want to support a business who continued to allow this.

  23. Sara without an H*

    I remember this one from when it was first posted. I really wish the OP would send us an update.

    I’d had something similar happen at my library while I was on vacation. By the time I got back, the employee had been fired by three levels of administration.

    On one hand, I felt kind of sorry for him. On the other, I wanted to smack him upside the head.

  24. ThisWitch*

    Obviously she needs to be let go, but am I the only one that noticed that part of the reason the OP found out about the Facebook stuff was from THE THERAPIST????? Like, they have a therapist on staff who is spreading people’s personal business around? Did I miss something there?

    1. Czhorat*

      They’re a health practice; the therapist is, if I’m reading correctly, a practitioner.

      So they are a therapist, but not Jane’s therapist.

    2. Flowers*

      Is it really productive to fixate on tiny details like that? I immediately interpreted it as maybe the therapist is in the same groups and saw Jane, or a patient told the therapist about it. If they had been *just* suggestive selfies of her in the bathroom with no identifying information – telling everyone at work would be gossiping. But with all the other details included, yes the therapist had every right to bring it up to the employer.

    3. Pierrot*

      Therapist does not necessarily mean mental health counselor. There are physical therapists, respiratory therapists, etc.
      Also, even if this was a therapy practice, it would be completely acceptable for one of the therapists to inform their boss that the office manager was taking nude photos at work and uploading them to social media and friending patients. In that case, Jane is not the patient and the therapist is acting as an employee/coworker- she is not Jane’s therapist. Boundaries are really important in any medical practice but especially in mental health services. Privacy is also extremely important and what Jane is doing could compromise patient privacy in a number of ways.

  25. Fledge Mulholland*

    Part of me thinks we never got an update on this because the OP was never able to bring themselves to do what they needed to do and follow everyone’s advice and fire her.

  26. Azure Jane Lunatic*

    I’m sure that there must be some kind of “clean desk” policy in action, because otherwise a photo that includes a co-worker’s desk might also include something confidential.

    I have never worked in healthcare; I have worked in industry where anything with writing on it needed to go in a secure shred bin lest someone accidentally divulge a detail about a future software release due to putting a doodle in the recycle. My partner, who does work in healthcare, slams their screen shut if I walk through the room at the wrong time and this is a sensible move for them to take, considering.

    1. Observer*

      I’m sure that there must be some kind of “clean desk” policy in action, because otherwise a photo that includes a co-worker’s desk might also include something confidential.

      And why do you think that Jane was worrying about exposing confidential information? She’s blown SO far past anything even resembling discretion, that I don’t think she gives a flip. But it DOES increase the risk to the practice.

    2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      Fairly certain that a person whose judgement has slid so far that they think naked selfies on/beside the boss’s desk isn’t going to be worried about pesky little details like patient confidentiality.

  27. Quickbeam*

    I’ve worked with *so* many managers in my 51 years of work that would put up with anything….bizarre outrageous behavior… in order to not replace a “valuable” employee. It’s sadly common.

  28. No Thanks Jane*

    People—don’t have sex in the office. Don’t take porn-y photos in the office. Don’t watch porn in the office. Don’t have sex with your partner in the office parking lot. JUST DO NOT DO SEX THINGS IN THE OFFICE. What Jane did (hopefully is not still doing, five years later) is beyond inappropriate. I hope she got fired.

    1. DrSalty*

      For real. How hard is it to understand the correct place to have sex is in the car in the parking lot next to the office??

  29. TootsNYC*

    if anyone is creating a “hostile workplace,” according to the definition, it is Jane, who is creating an unpleasant workplace for her colleagues and the business.

  30. Luna*

    Her taking explicit pictures of herself during work and then posting them on the internet, and that being something her coworkers know does not a hostile work enviornment make. Nor is there really much of a legal leg to stand on when it comes to ‘suing Mary’ for telling the other colleagues of Jane’s activities.
    Perhaps a civil lawsuit, at best stretched to ‘mental anguish’ caused by this very-private-activity being mentioned to others. …but at the same time, I want to say, “You are doing this *at work* and *during business hours*, exactly how private could you possibly continue to call that?”

    Put your foot down and tell Jane that her little peep show needs to be done *only* in her spare time, she is forbidden from doing it at work and during business hours. That includes not going into the bathroom and taking pictures there. If she wants to go to a different property on her lunch break and take pictures there? That is her unpaid, personal time, and that is pretty much not your business where she does it, then, as it’s not the job property.

    If she’s embarrassed, that will happen. Don’t let yourself get to stuttering or hesitating because you are embarrased yourself over this topic. It is awkward, it has to be bluntly said, and the fact *that* it has to be discussed should lead to more disbelieving, sighing annoyance than embarrassment. Mostly in the sense of, “I cannot *believe* I have to explain that this is bad”.

    If she leaves, fine. You will likely struggle when she leaves and until you get a new employee, but that’s just something that will have to happen. You don’t want to become known as ‘that doctor’s office with that exhibitionist employee’, do you?

  31. PurpleStar*

    ” She even invited a patient who works at a business in our center to be a member of one of the groups.”

    This is a fire-able offense. I work in health care – in HR – from the description, this is a health care practice. Any personal involvement of staff with patients is a no-go for us. We do, and we have, immediately terminated the staff’s employment for breaking the patient/carer relationship.

    The nude photos are bad enough, taking nude photos at work and posting them on work time, is worse. Inviting patients to join these groups – no, just no. Her experience and it being hard to replace her are just excuses to avoid the very real possibility of malpractice suits that can result from this egregious patient interaction.

    Really, fire her now.

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