I supervise a manager who falsified an employee write-up … but I don’t think she should be fired

A reader writes:

My manager recently overruled me on a firing decision and it is not sitting right with me. I’m a division manager. I manage all the teams within my division. I report to Manny, the departmental manager. He manages all the divisions in our department.

Our office employees were all remote from March 2020-September 2022 before our new space opened. Our warehouse staff were never remote because it’s not possible. The warehouse is about 20 minutes from our old office on the same bus route.

Although my company did not renew the lease on our building when it expired, they renovated and opened office space at the property that houses our warehouse since some employees had expressed an interest in returning to the office. Before the renovation, everyone was asked if they wanted to be remote or in the office so there would be adequate space. It was made clear to everyone that their choice was their own. An employee did not have to be in the office because their manager was, and managers didn’t have to go in if they had any staff on site. The question was only asked for planning purposes regarding space; the company wanted to have enough room plus extra for any future new hires who want to be on site.

One of the teams in my division is managed by Rachel. All of Rachel’s staff elected to work from home save for one — Jason. Rachel was not happy with his decision to return to the office. He got written up for it, which affected his annual review. It came out when Jason quit for another job and during his exit interview he said Rachel’s anger about his decision was the reason. This was news to HR and me, because we were told the write-up was for another reason. Jason had a different copy of the write-up than the one in his file. Rachel believes work from home is the gold standard and was not happy he chose differently, even though it did not affect her at all.

When Manny found out, he fired Rachel. I was not consulted or included in the process. While I understand that Rachel was wrong, I would not have fired her. I would have made sure she knew that she was out of line, I probably would have put her on a PIP, and I would have taken over co-managing her team until I was sure she would not do something like this again. But this was Rachel’s first infraction in her entire time working here. HR interviewed the rest of her staff and all of them spoke positively about her.

In all my time being a manager at multiple companies, I have never had my manager interfere in hiring, firing, or other employment decisions. Manny fired Rachel immediately and did not consult me. He says she had no excuse and her statement that work from home was perfect for someone like Jason (because he is single, lives alone, and has no parenting/caregiving duties) was out of line.

I agree Rachel was out of line, but Manny not consulting me and overruling me when I said I wouldn’t fire Rachel isn’t sitting right with me. Am I wrong to be upset about this?

I don’t see how you could keep Rachel on after what she did: She put a fake write-up in an employee’s file so that you wouldn’t see the real one she gave him. That’s a massive breach of trust. She deliberately falsified documentation in order to make sure you didn’t know about something she was doing to an employee.

This isn’t PIP/coaching/warning territory. It’s firing territory. You cannot have a manager on your staff who is willing to falsify documentation and lie to get away with something that she was clearly and deliberately trying to hide from you.

That would be true in any situation, but it’s all the more outrageous that Rachel did this for such an utterly ridiculous reason — because she didn’t like that Jason was working in the office and wanted to penalize him for it?! And rather than advocate for her viewpoint to management above her to try to get the policy changed if she felt she had compelling reasons, she chose to engage in this bizarre and complicated deceit.

I’m guessing that Manny fired Rachel without consulting you because the decision seemed so obvious — the same way he might have fired someone on the spot for punching a client without first running it by you. He figured it was egregious enough that there was no other option.

Now, that doesn’t mean that he shouldn’t have looped you in first, but depending on exactly how it all went down, I can imagine scenarios where that wouldn’t have been practical. Yes, in an ideal world, Manny would have huddled with you, explained Rachel couldn’t remain, and heard you out if you disagreed — but ultimately he does have the standing to say nope, we cannot keep someone who does that.

If this surfaced a difference in philosophies between the two of you, as it sounds like it did, then that’s something the two of you need to hash out further … but that hashing out might mean Manny needs to make it clearer what offenses warrant termination. If I were Manny, I’d be pretty taken aback that you didn’t think falsifying an employee’s write-up warranted firing, and I’d want to dig into that with you.

The subject line of your email to me was “how much authority should a manager have over hiring/firing decisions on their own teams?” so I want to speak to that too. Generally, as a manager you should have a lot of control over those things (unless you’re fairly junior-level, in which case it’ll often make sense for you to have less). But while your own manager shouldn’t be dictating those things as a matter of course, there are times when it’s appropriate for them to step in and overrule you if they feel strongly that you’re making the wrong call — just like they might with a strategy decision or anything else at work. It shouldn’t be something that happens all the time; it’s a power they should use sparingly (and if they find they’re having to use it all the time, there’s a problem somewhere — either the higher-level manager isn’t giving enough autonomy, or the person they’re managing needs more training and coaching or possibly isn’t right for the role). So one question for you here is what Manny is like as a manager in general — does he frequently step in and overrule you, or was this a pretty rare occurrence? I’m guessing it was rare since you were taken aback by it and didn’t mention a pattern of meddling … and I’d see that as additional affirmation of how egregious Rachel’s actions were.

Read an update to this letter

{ 675 comments… read them below }

  1. Chick (on phone)*

    Rachel lied and tried to penalize someone for something that was not penalize-able. That’s a serious, serious breach and absolutely warrants firing.

    1. Enai*

      Yes, what on Earth, Rachel? I wouldn’t trust her to manage the coffee funds! If she lies like that about people, surely she’ll lie even more when less is at stake.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          I got to that point in the letter and audibly gasped. How can anyone rationalize Rachel’s level of lying!?

        2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          Yeah – that was just flabbergasting to me – how does OP not realize just how disastrous what Rachel did was?

        3. Observer*

          Also, what on Earth, LW?


          I wrote a long response below, but honestly, the TLDR would be “If Manny is smart, YOU are on thin ice here.”

          1. Polar Vortex*

            I was thinking the same thing. If LW doesn’t think lying about a write up that affected someone’s compensation AND a completely inappropriate write up is worth firing, what else would they think is worth just a PIP? That kind of vindictiveness combined with that kind of lying is egregious. Would they think stealing from the company worth a PIP if it’s a first time? (Since stealing from an employee is worth a PIP.)

            And that’s not including the manager creating an environment where her employees can’t trust her. What if one of her employees is of a different religion or different political viewpoint or different sexuality than her, they’re going to constantly be worried about being written up by her for things she has no right to do so – and as she covered it up – believe the company agrees with it. That’s a lawsuit waiting to happen.

          2. Penny*

            That was my thought too. I understand that OP may feel her authority was undermined but this is one of those things where ego is not warranted and has me questioning her judgment.

            Rachel abused her position of authority, punished someone for doing something that wasn’t wrong, and made an effort to cover it up because she knew what she did was wrong. I wouldn’t trust her and I wouldn’t give her the opportunity to do it again. She sounds like a nightmare to work for.

            1. JSPA*

              OP says that for most people, she’s a dream to work for–which actually is enough to cloud almost anyone’s judgement. If someone is broadly discriminatory, they’re super easy to fire. When their eggregious act is related to a single weird blind spot, but everyone else they manage (regardless of race, sex, national origin, faith and orientation) thrives, it’s got to feel like such a waste–as well as a complete shock.

              1. MM*

                The thing that’s killing me though is that Rachel has never done anything else wrong as far as OP knows. When the thing she did wrong here involved flagrant deception. I’m surprised it’s the firing that’s keeping OP up at night, rather than the open question of what else Rachel might have gotten away with before this incident.

                1. Chicken Situation*

                  Exactly this. Also, even if she hasn’t done anything else wrong YET, someone who behaves this egregiously is fairly likely to pull something again.

            2. Lexi Lynn*

              Actually she forged 2 write ups. The one in the file accusing him of something false and the one she gave him punishing him for something that was fine to do.

            3. goddessoftransitory*

              I mean, if the problem was along the lines of “before I could fire Rachel, Manny did so and I feel it undermined my authority to manage my people” that would be one thing. I can see not wanting to have it appear that your boss has to do the “tough” parts of your job for you.

              But questioning whether the firing needed to happen is a whole ‘nother kettle of fish.

          3. SQL Coder Cat*

            Agreed. Honestly, the fact that everyone on her team spoke positively of Rachel leads me to believe one of two things are true: they were afraid to speak honestly OR there are cultural problems with the whole team. I am very curious as to how much time had passed between the exit interview and when Manny intervened. I also would like to know if HR interviewed Rachel’s other reports before or after she was fired. If any significant amount of time had passed, I am not surprised Manny stepped in- this situation is just so egregious that there is no other option but firing Rachel, and doing it quickly.

            LW, I hope you take this as an opportunity to look into your own management style and values. Being willing to give people second chances is a positive thing- but some things need a zero tolerance policy. You need to unpack why you would be willing to give a second chance in this scenario. It will make you a better manager.

            1. Candi*

              I just realized something.

              Jason didn’t bring this up until he was ready to leave the company.

              He didn’t chase up the chain through OP and Manny to contest the writeup, or go to HR. Even though he knew it was bogus.

              What exactly is Rachel doing to her workers that they have that little trust in the higher levels of the company?

              1. Grey*

                Jason didn’t know it was bogus until his exit interview. He was probably led by Rachel to believe the company supported her decision.

                1. merula*

                  I think what Candi meant by bogus is that it was a completely inappropriate reason for a PIP, not that it was fraudulent. If I got put on a PIP for making a choice my employer expressly offered, I’d be in HR’s office within minutes. That Jason didn’t points to something seriously wrong with how Rachel is portraying the company to her directs.

                2. Candi*

                  Bogus is short for bogus reason -he was written up for not following Rachel’s preferences, not because he did anything illegal, unethical, or against company policy.

            2. Who Plays Backgammon?*

              “HR interviewed the rest of her staff and all of them spoke positively about her.”

              It’s possible Rachel was a dream manager to everyone else but just plain didn’t like Jason and was out to get him. Who knows what transpired between them when there were no witnesses? Jason might not have felt moved to tell HR everything, esp. as he was leaving. Contesting the write-up might have seemed like a fool’s errand and the time better spent on job search. I received a horrible write-up from Previous Manager that included a truly heinous false accusation. When she gave me the document, instead of discussing it professionally, she launched into a long, angry rant. Between the filthy accusation and her rage, I was stunned. I had the right to contest it, but for weeks afterward I was in shock and could barely think. I wouldn’t have trusted any manager at that company by then.

              1. rebelwithmouseyhair*

                Yeah, I was accused of low productivity, then it turned out there were project managers who weren’t bothering to log my contributions so they could pretend the margin was higher than it really was. The PMs were fired, but nobody apologised to me, and so I decided my time there was up.

        4. br_612*

          I think the LW was focusing on the first action, writing up over the office, and not the falsification, when it’s the falsification that is the nail in the coffin for Rachel. They’re thinking of it as a minor judgement/preference issue and not a glaring lack of integrity.

          LW, it is VERY much the latter. If Rachel hadn’t falsified the write up Manny might not have immediately fired her. But that falsification is a BIG DEAL.

          1. EtTuBananas*

            I think you’re right. And also, I would be questioning WHY Rachel was retaliating against employees for choosing an option freely given to them? That to me shows a big blind spot in Rachel’s judgment around her own opinions – if the company sanctions (and pays for by renovating and providing equipment) the option to return to the office, why should Rachel care?! Presumably it would only improve the employee’s work by improving their mental health. Yet Rachel can only see that it’s outside the scope of her personal preference.

      1. Fishsticks*

        Yes, I would be looking back through Rachel’s time with the company and wondering what else she lied about.

        1. Rex Libris*

          Yep. The fact that she was willing to go to such lengths, apparently without hesitation, over something so petty probably means that her history is good mostly because it’s the first time she’s been caught.

          1. Paulina*

            Other times when she instituted her own policy for her own team may have been things the team liked. But anyone who thinks they can do such a thing — especially over something that’s a personal decision for the employee and wouldn’t negatively impact the team at all — has almost surely charted her own path before.

          2. MigraineMonth*

            The pettiness of it really caught me off guard! Usually you see this kind of blatant lying in order to protect one’s job, steal from the company, retaliate against someone who damaged your reputation… but penalizing an employee for not WFH makes no sense to me.

            1. RS*

              Makes me wonder if Rachel thought that Jason could be a threat to her current or future prospects if he was working from the office while she worked remotely. Doesn’t make what she did justified in any way, but it could *explain* this seemingly bizarre behavior.

        2. Kes*

          Yeah, when they said “it’s her first offence” my reaction was “…that you know of”. If Joe hadn’t brought it up you wouldn’t have known, and given that as far as he knew management knew and was okay with Rachel’s review, you’re lucky he did bring it up.

        3. Coffee Bean*

          Exactly. And if Jason was a good employee with valued skills, Rachel’s actions caused the loss of that employee. Doing something like Rachel did is so duplicitous, it would make me question her ethics.

          1. Lapis Lazuli*

            Good point – it reminds me of the manager who “un-managed” an employee who had been hired to help the team & company expand their role in a niche field/market. They excluded her from project work she was supposed to be assigned/leading, encouraged an exclusionary team culture, and then there were allegations of bullying & harassment. That OP had to go through a lot of soul searching and effectively ruined her reputation at that company because of questionable ethics and lack of management training.


          2. Worldwalker*

            I don’t question Rachel’s ethics at all.

            She’s shown us who she is; believe her the first time. (with a nod to Maya Angelou)

            1. Mister_L*

              I know the term get’s thrown around a lot, but if it later comes out Rachel was creating a “hostile work environment” for either Jason or someone before him who just quietly went away I wouldn’t be surprised.

      2. LCH*

        right? at this point, wouldn’t you have to question everything Rachel recorded in a file? can you swear everything else is true and this was the only abberation? no.

        has she written anyone else up? because I would seriously consider reviewing all of those. did any clients she worked with leave during her tenure? because I would really be thinking about if she told us the real reason. etc, etc.

        1. Worldwalker*

          It makes me think of that situation recently where convictions from every case a state police crime lab chemist had testified in had to be thrown out, because it was discovered that said chemist was faking results, forging paperwork, and just plain lying. Nothing out of that lab could be trusted.

          Rachel is like that. Maybe on a smaller scale, instead of involving hundreds of criminal convictions, but still, she’s like that.

      3. goddessoftransitory*

        My very second reaction (my very first one would be THE ACTUAL HELL) would be what else has she lied about? Somebody who does something this egregious cannot be trusted, flat out.

    2. Chauncy Gardener*

      AND falsified documents! This is so beyond the pale, OP. I think you need to seriously consider what actually is a fireable offense if you don’t think this is. And I agree with the commenter below who says this probably wasn’t Rachel’s first time on this merry go round.

      1. Totally Minnie*

        Rachel committed fraud against the company. This is an enormous deal, and the fact the LW doesn’t think so is really troubling.

      2. Name Changer*

        Manny has lost a decent member of staff in Jason because of Rachel’s irrationality and spite. There was no excuse for Rachel’s behaviour. If you as a manager have been given permission to WFH all the time it makes no difference to you where your staff work from .

        1. Cut & Run*

          I’m confused, it sounded like if I read it correctly that employees didn’t have to come in if the manager chose to, BUT, if any staff came in, then that manager was expected to report in as well which is why Rachel was made at Jason.

          What Rachel did was inexcusable, but I thought that was the motive, otherwise it makes no sense if it didn’t matter where Jason chose to work.

          1. Ellen Ripley*

            From the letter: “An employee did not have to be in the office because their manager was, and managers DIDN’T have to go in if they had any staff on site.”

          2. Coffee Bean*

            The OP said that managers don’t have to go in if their team members are on site. Employees were asked about their plans, because the people who manage the space needed to know this for planning purposes.

            1. Grammar Penguin*

              You know, the fact that this company is planning around what their employees prefer and actually providing that rather than just dictating from on high speaks really well of them.

              1. I have RBF*

                Rachel essentially retaliating against a subordinate for his free option with a write-up, and then filing a false write-up with HR, is what moves it solidly into firing territory for Rachel. IMO she did two bad things:
                1) Wrote an employee up for doing something that according to policy was explicitly within his right to do, and
                2) Put a falsified write-up into his personnel file to make it look like it was a different reason that she wrote him up because she knew the write-up she gave him was not legitimate.

                This gives reason to doubt her judgement, fairness and honesty in dealing with her subordinates. It throws doubt on every write-up she’s ever filed on a subordinate.

                If the LW doesn’t see this as a problem, I don’t know what else to tell them except “Please think this through some more.”

                1. Sleeve McQueen*

                  As well as all of the above, it impacted Jason’s general review so there’s a possibility that her lies impacted his ability to get promoted or a pay rise. Her actions have a real-world impact on people!

    3. Roland*

      Yeah, what kind of PIP can you implement for “files fake writeups for employees she doesn’t like”? I hope you’re not so hands off that she’s beem getting away with doing in constantly, it’s hopefully a rare occurrence, but also completely unacceptable.

      1. Littorally*

        Seriously. My company is very loath to fire and in compliance we have a running joke that you could absolutely get a PIP that says “Employee will endeavor to refrain from urinating his initials on the CEO’s car, with improvement expected within 90 days,” but even we will fire for falsified company records.

        OP, I think you may need to do some reflecting on your own management standards if this isn’t making your hair stand on end.

        1. Artemesia*

          This. Falsifying records tends to be a bright line. We had an AA, very respected and competent, who fudged a time sheet for an employee. There was no attempt to defraud — she had worked the hours but there was some time shift/comp time involved and the system did not make it easy to reflect that. Although there was no fraud or ill intent, she nearly got fired. The Dean had to go to the mats to keep her from being fired after years of excellent service because ‘falsifying time sheets is a firing offense.’ She was barely rescued and lots of chips were expended. HR was adamant about it.

          This case is much worse at it is genuine fraud AND being used to unfairly punish someone and then hide it from superiors. This is not about training, it is about character. The behavior was no incompetent, it was malicious. She had to go and I would be reluctant as the OP to push back because it would shine an unfavorable light on you.

          1. BasketcaseNZ*

            I was nearly fired for going home early sick and forgetting to sign out and update my timesheet on the way out (back in the days of a paper-based timesheet system).
            It was only the fact that the first thing I did on arrival the next day was to ask for the timesheet to be updated that got me off, and it still went to a final written warning.

        2. goddessoftransitory*

          I joke that you basically have to peel and eat a live kitten on the courthouse steps before you get booted as customer where I work, but the equivalent to this kind of terrible action would get you hung up on and told to never call again by a manager the FIRST time you tried it.

      2. goducks*

        Right. If all that Rachel had done was have a negative reaction to Jason’s choice and just made a comment or something, then yeah, a PIP or similar might be appropriate to work on management skills. But to write him up for it, and then falsify documents– there’s no PIP to fix that.

        1. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

          Yep. I guess if she had just writing him up but not hid why she did, maybe not fire her. But she did hide it because she KNEW it was ridiculous and out of line.

          She effed around and found out.

          1. Caliente Papillon*

            Yes, a fave phrase my husband and I have been telling each other is going on with our teenager! Keeps effing around and finding out! An excellent teacher.

            1. Critical Rolls*

              Ha, I actually described my teen-parenting philosophy as “eff around and find out.” Because they *are* going to eff around, and it’s my job to make sure they find out in the most instructive/least damaging way.

          2. ferrina*

            Exactly. She knew she was in the wrong! She deliberately hid information from her boss, and did it so she could punish one of her direct reports!

            This isn’t something that more information or practice or training can fix- she knew what she was doing was wrong and chose to do it and hide her action.

            1. I have RBF*

              And she subsequently had the employee leave, costing the company the expense of hiring and training a replacement. That’s an expensive retaliation and falsification.

          1. Curious*

            The issue is that what Rachel did ISN’T poor*performance*. It is unacceptable *behavior*. You can’t fix bad behavior with a Performance Improvement Plan.

      3. MigraineMonth*

        “You need to reduce the number of falsified documents you file. No more than two in the next 3 months, or we’ll fire you, okay?”

        1. Roland*

          Every time she files a doc: “Can you please double-check for me that you haven’t purposefully falsified this one real quick?”

      4. Underrated Pear*

        This was my question to the LW as well. A PIP is meant to address issues that can be managed/trained with concrete steps. How do you train someone, “Ok, here’s how we’re going to stop falsifying records about your employees”?

      5. Prof. Monster*

        Yeah, a PIP needs to have measurable goals the employee can work toward. “Don’t falsify stuff” isn’t measurable by its very nature, because she’s falsifying stuff specifically to hide it from her higher-ups! If Jason hadn’t had his own copy of the true write-up, they never would have known she had falsified anything, and the same would be true going forward. If she’s good at covering her tracks, it looks like she’s meeting the conditions of her PIP, and she gets to keep working there. There’s no point to that.

        Also, if someone is going after a subordinate over something this petty and inconsequential, and then hiding the evidence of it, that’s probably the tip of the iceberg. it’s hard to believe she wasn’t engaging in other petty and underhanded shenanigans in her role as a manager.

        1. ferrina*

          Srsly, how would they enforce this?

          “To make sure you’re not lying to me, I’ve hired a firm of private investigators who will follow you every minute of every day. This will last for 90 days, then we’ll be all good!”

        2. turquoisecow*

          Yeah aside from all the fraud and whatnot, this is a person who 100% should not be managing people.

      6. Lilas*

        Yeah you don’t need a pip to teach someone that very obviously egregious wrong things are wrong. That pip would just signal that your company tolerates this kind of abuse of power. I wouldn’t want to work for someone who tolerated what Rachel did, or even had to think about it very hard.

      7. hbc*

        Exactly. OP, if you’re still on the fence, go through the exercise of writing the PIP you wanted to put together. I did this once and realized about 15 minutes in that there was no way to do it without being ridiculous. If “no longer create false documentation to undermine clear company policy” is needed for Rachel, what other fundamentals is she missing?

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          “Do not burn down building.”
          “Do not put glass in company coffeepot.”
          “Do not underreport corporate gains to IRS.”

      8. Curious*

        The issue is that what Rachel did ISN’T poor*performance*. It is unacceptable *behavior*. You can’t fix bad behavior with a Performance Improvement Plan.

    4. The Person from the Resume*

      She knew what she did was wrong and unreasonable so she lied to you to cover her track and falsified documents to cover her tracks.

      This is so deliberate. It was not a mistake. She is absolutely untrustworthy going forward. You cannot trust anything she tells you now. She should have been fired. You really need to think about why you want to continue to employee someone who deliberately lied to you. (Not an off the cuff, in the moment lie driven by fear or surprise.) That is not a normal reaction by a manager.

      1. JelloStapler*

        Yes it is lying because she KNEW she was wrong and would get called out. What else has she covered up?

      2. sara*

        I think this part is key. It’s not something that was a mistake or oversight — in those cases, I could see saying that even if the mistake was big/had significant impacts, it was accidental and thus someone should get another chance if this was the first problem. But this was a deliberate and intentional choice to target an employee for basically no reason. Because it was not accidental or just bad judgement in one moment, it speaks to larger issues of character and ability to serve in a trusted role in the company.

    5. NerdyKris*

      Yeah, like Alison says, the issue isn’t so much the content of the writeup, but the falsifying information to hide it. A mistake is one thing, this was a deliberate attempt to conceal it and calls into question any disciplinary action she’s ever taken. Like when you find out a cop falsified evidence for a trial, you can no longer trust any of the evidence they ever submitted.

      1. Stuff*

        I mean you would think you wouldn’t trust cops who falsify evidence, but it’s come out that it’s incredibly common, and cops don’t typically get punished or dismissed for it, they just sometimes get informally told not to take the stand in the future. Informally. How many Americans are behind bars now or have criminal records because cops lie about evidence?

        1. Artemesia*

          If they fired the next 10 cops proven to lie on the stand, this might be turned around. Letting them continue to serve when they lie about things as serious as watching another cop murder someone, is one of the reasons police departments are so untrustworthy.

        2. Andy*

          Every single prosecutor and public defender I know has a list of cops who they know have lied on the stand. Those lists aren’t short.

      2. Observer*

        Like when you find out a cop falsified evidence for a trial, you can no longer trust any of the evidence they ever submitted.

        No kidding! There have been DA’s offices that have had to go back over DECADES and wind up throwing out a whole bunch of cases when the find out about the “first time” some cop lied on the stand, or did something illegal that they covered up.

        1. I have RBF*

          There are countless cases where cops have either planted evidence or lied on the stand, get caught, and they have to go back and examine or even re-litigate multiple convictions.

      3. Paulina*

        IMO the content of the writeup was also quite out of line. Allowing choice to WFH or not is company policy. She doesn’t get to institute her own policy for her own team just because she thinks WFH is better. But yes it’s the falsification that’s the “fire immediately” offense.

      4. learnedthehardway*

        Initially, I thought there might have been a difference of interpretation between what the employee and Rachel thought had happened, or that the employee was maybe misstating the reason why he had been disciplined.

        But Rachel gave one write up to the employee and filed a totally different one. That’s a real problem, and a fireable offense.

    6. Help Desk Peon*

      She’s shown that she’s willing to falsify documents, which means they should be asking themselves – what else has she falsified?

      1. GrooveBat*

        LW, if I were you I’d focus less on protesting Manny’s decision and more on trying to investigate and resolve any additional damage Rachel might have done. That includes reviewing all of her employee evaluations and making sure what is in each file is the legitimate, valid evaluation.

        As others have pointed out, if she lied about this, who knows what else she lied about?

    7. Paulina*

      Absolutely. Rachel essentially countermanded the company’s WFH policy and tried to covertly impose her own regime on her own team. Someone who would do such a thing is unemployable as a manager. And there’s no way to know how much else like this she’s done, or would have done, if her team wasn’t amenable to her preferences.

    8. Fluttervale*

      No joke. If she will lie about someone who wants to work from home and falsify documents, don’t you think she will falsify documents that show her illegal discrimination, retaliation, or imbezzling?

      1. Candi*

        “If she will lie about someone who wants to work from home”

        Jason wanted to work from the office -maybe because he lives alone and has no relationship commitments. Rachel took exception to that for reasons that amount to him not doing things the way she wants him to.

        (I understand. We’re used to managers that get juvenile over people who want to work from home and only that.)

    9. Robin Ellacott*

      And she knew it wasn’t something she should write Jason up for, otherwise she wouldn’t have changed the document. So she basically said “I want this person punished and the company wouldn’t agree, so I’m going to do it secretly.

      I would have fired her in a hot second, yes speaking to the manager about it first if possible, but in an “of course we have to fire her immediately” way.

    10. Inkognyto*

      Rachel also wasn’t smart enough not to leave a paper trail.
      This would be “she said/he said” without that and dismissed by HR.

      LW you were an email away from have a lying direct report.
      Who thinks her emotions and way of working is the only way. Least she was willing to put it in writing.

    11. TG*

      Wow yeah you’re way off here – she messed with someone’s career, lied and seriously had a major trust breach. She deserved firing and I hope the former employee doesn’t sue because I think he could.

    1. Didi Nic*

      This part exactly! They lost a seemingly good employee due to her bad management. And the bad management would be one thing, but lying is an integrity issue and this person cannot be trusted.

    2. ferrina*

      Yeah. Makes me wonder what else was going on, because there was no way this was a single instance of bad judgement.

      1. HR Jeanne*

        I would be interviewing the rest of her team to see if they felt pressured to work from home or experienced other forms of poor management.

    3. Me ... Just Me*

      Not just that, but that good employee is going to tell everyone he meets about how things are run at old company — what if they hadn’t let Rachel go? Then they’d be the company that gave this behavior a tacit stamp of approval.

  2. SereneScientist*

    LW, you honestly sound more angry that Manny overruled you than concerned/upset at what your former employee actually did which was pretty egregious both ethically and morally. Might be worth digging into that, as Allison suggests.

    1. Poison I.V. drip*

      If I were Manny and I knew LW felt this way, I’d be side-eyeing LW too right about now. LW, you’ve shown your ass when it comes to workplace ethics and you better watch your own conduct closely.

      1. Ugh*

        I had the same exact thought. If I was Manny, I would be questioning LW’s judgment because this is a 100% fireable offense. It also makes me wonder if Rachel was able to forge and lie about a document, what else was she doing? To the LW, Rachel was great. Was she really that great or did she have other skeletons hiding?

      2. Cynan*

        Yeah, if I’m Manny, I am at the very least considering whether LW is the right fit to manage managers, considering just how off-base this is.

    2. Fire*

      LW, I’d also be concerned that your reaction is reducing your credibility with your boss. This is a clear cut firing. Questioning it will make people question your judgement

    3. Mf*

      That’s my take: the LW seems upset that Manny fired someone without consulting him/her. This is not about Rachel—it’s about control.

      1. Somehow_I_Manage*

        But what’s really weird is that LW doesn’t seem too upset that Rachel is the one that was literally undermining their credibility and authority.

        1. turquoisecow*

          Yeah, I wonder if OP is feeling protective of Rachel because they saw her as a star employee, or maybe they hired or trained her themselves, so her being fired feels personal.

          It’s not personal, OP, it’s that egregious of an error.

  3. Snarkus Aurelius*

    Also, rarely is behavior like this the first time it has occurred. I guarantee you Rachel has done other shady stuff that you either don’t know about or have proof of.

    I read what you have to say, but I still can’t see why Rachel shouldn’t have been fired.

    1. cncx*

      Yeah this isn’t her first offense, it’s the first one she got caught for. People don’t wake up in the morning and just decide to do something this egregious, people who do this operate like this. It was thought out to the point of putting a fake one in the HR file to be deceptive, that’s not a brief error in judgement.

      Now if OP wants to he a great reference for her, fine, but i agree with you, it’s pretty easy to understand why she was fired.

      1. Looper*

        Yes, her entire course of action is so bizarre that it is, to me, extremely unlikely that this is the first time she has done something unethical. She had absolutely nothing to gain by this course of action other than to make an ideological point (which didn’t make any sense to begin with). Imagine what she’d do if she had actual stakes at play!

      2. Observer*

        Now if OP wants to he a great reference for her, fine,

        Are you kidding? *THIS* is the kind of situation that has caused so many companies to not allow managers to give references. Could you imagine what would happen if someone hired her because the OP said that she’s great and didn’t disclose why she was fired? And then that company discovered “the rest of the story”? And in a way that caused them damage? I wouldn’t want to be OP’s legal department in that case.

        1. Kevin Sours*

          What cause of action do you think a company would have? I don’t think their legal department would lose any sleep over it.

          1. Observer*

            Companies have been sued (and even lost) in cases where they knowingly gave a good reference and hid relevant information about an employee.

            A company doesn’t have a legal obligation to provide information. But if you DO provide information you can get into trouble if you provide information that you know is false, or that is missing critical information but that is hidden. eg If you just confirm hiring and end dates, then no one is going to claim that this was an indication that the person was a good employee. But if you say that “Person was smart, efficient, blah blah” but leave out that “Person was caught stealing company equipment”, that’s different. Because in going on about how wonderful the person was and not giving them the whole story, you make it sound like Person is a great employee with no real cause for concern. And that’s false – and you know that!

            Would someone win? I don’t know. But I d0 know that lawyers worry enough about this, that companies have these policies.

            1. I am Emily's failing memory*

              While a company might try to bring that case, the more likely avenue for it to come back to bite them, is when someone at the company later gives a negative reference to a fired employee, that employee sues for defamation, and it comes out in discovery that managers don’t give negative references to all fired employees. That could potentially be taken as evidence to support an allegation that the second employee was given a negative reference for discriminatory reasons, because the company can’t fall back on the defense that they categorically give negative references to all employees fired for cause.

      3. Ro*

        Yes in LW’s place I would be doing an audit of every write up she ever filed and maybe all documents she filed full stop.

        1. mb*

          I was thinking this too. You literally have to go through all her reports and write-ups to verify that it’s all correct. Doing a fake write-up of an employee which probably affected his compensation is literally stealing from him. Not to mention, because he left, they would have had to hire another employee to replace him which costs money. He might still be working there if not for Rachel. And what if she were writing people up for illegal reasons – now the company is exposed to a lawsuit.
          If OP were my employee I would seriously reconsider whether they are a good manager if they expressed this opinion to me.

        2. ferrina*

          Yes! And probably doing a personal investigation- there may well be problematic employees who were not written up when they should have been because they were the manager’s favorites.

      4. Sparkles McFadden*

        Yup…this is a tip of the iceberg situation. People who lie like this, lie about everything. Someone willing to falsify a review cannot be trusted.

        This dishonest action, which caused the company to lose an employee they would not otherwise have lost, is the action you found out about. Even if you truly believed this is the only time Rachel did such a thing, the lie is so egregious that it requires immediate dismissal.

    2. Fluffy Fish*

      Without a doubt.

      The fact that her employees were all positive when asked means absolutely nothing.

      Fear of retaliation is a real thing and there’s always a solid chance employees won’t say anything about negative their boss especially to HR.

      1. Cold and Tired*

        This. Like, employees talk to each other, so it’s not unreasonable to think that Jason told at least someone what happened and now they all just lie to save their own jobs not knowing if they’ll be next for retaliation. I sure wouldn’t be honest with a manager like Rachel if I was them and knew what had happened.

          1. Observer*

            This! OP, please take what people are saying on board.

            Yes, you are being blasted here, and it can’t be easy. But you need to internalize this, or you will be endangering your job (and possibly your career – people talk!)

          2. Worldwalker*

            Yes. It’s not unlikely that the OP is seen as likely to defend Rachel, and therefore equally not to be trusted.

            1. Me ... Just Me*

              Yes! This is one of those situations where OP would be best served by publicly NOT backing Rachel. Don’t be going to her former reports and talking about what a terrible loss it is for the company because …blah, blah, blah. There should be discussions around how to support employees — open door policies, etc.

              And, OP, look into getting Jason his back pay for the money he lost due to her fraudulent actions.

      2. Littorally*

        Yup. We know she’s punitive! You think anyone’s gonna stick their neck out? Jason crossed her (“crossed” on something that should never have been a problem in the first place) and now he’s out the door.

      3. Looper*

        Right? I imagine these employees thought they were going to have to continue working under her (and would have if OP had their way) and just saw their coworker get a fake write up and essentially pushed out of his job by her. Like they’re really going to give candid answers to these questions about her under these circumstances?

        1. Worldwalker*

          And to the person who doesn’t think that what Rachel did is a firing offense, and thinks she should just not do it again.

          1. Candi*

            HR did the questioning -but the employees wouldn’t know if the firing would stick, if they were told at that point or if the firing hadn’t been completed yet.

        1. Fluffy Fish*

          I don’t think anyone’s disputing that. One of OPs justifications for keeping Rachel is that it was a one-time thing because look all her employees say she’s great.

          It’s important if OP reads this, or anyone else that thinks similarly to OP, that they understand why employees not complaining about their boss doesn’t in any way mean the boss is not a problem.

          1. DCompliance*

            While others on this board understand, I don’t know that OP fully understands that this is more of an ethics violation and a “non-performance” violation. OP doesn’t get a say on discipline. It doesn’t matter what other employees think of her. It doesn’t matter that is one time. OP is looking at the wrong set of rules. I should explained more why I was saying it was irrelevant.

            1. Fluffy Fish*

              I hear you and its definitely addressed elsewhere on the board.

              I think I’m just saying your comment is valid but out of place here. We’re talking about two separate things.

            2. Observer*

              I should explained more why I was saying it was irrelevant.

              You are wrong, though. I *DO* totally agree with you that this was a major firing offense just on the ethics alone. And the fact that the OP doesn’t see this makes me question THEIR ethics, to be honest.

              But the issue of how people are reacting is still relevant. The OP needs to understand *one* additional of the ramifications of this highly unethical behavior. They need to understand that when someone like Rachel – and the OP – are in charge people are NOT going to tell you the things that you need to hear. So, even absent the ethical failure here, claiming that people said nice things is simply meaningless.

              1. DCompliance*

                I never said above that OP doing her own investigation on if employees like Rachel was appropriate or valuable.

                This is actually why mangers don’t do their own ethics investigations or HR investigations.

                Will they open to HR and Compliance if you build strong programs? Yes.

                It’s irreverent if people like Rachel. It irrelevant if the OP relays to someone that employees like Rachel.

              2. Boof*

                It’s also entirely possible Rachel plays favorites and those who are in her good graces won’t see or feel any of the shady stuff. To me the only question is if it’s so wildly out of character that LW has reason to think Jason is the one lying about the whole thing; then the only objection would be that rachel should have been suspended for a thorough investigation to try to pinpoint who is the egarious one

        2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          And if they’ve all seen her pull a fast one and get away with it – why in the world are any of those same employees going to risk their job by being honest with the person who kept Rachel around?

        3. Totally Minnie*

          I think that’s a good point. Even if none of her other employees had been targeted, even if they didn’t know about what she did to Jason, even if everybody else who reported to her genuinely loved her and wanted to invite her to Christmas dinner with their families, none of that matters.

          What matters is that she committed at least one act that was sever enough to be a first time firing offense all on its own. “Her other employees think she’s great, though,” isn’t the strong defense that LW wants it to be.

          1. goddessoftransitory*

            Plenty of the worst people on the planet were thought to be terrific until they showed that they really, really weren’t. Hell, one reason “con artist” exists as a profession of sorts is the ability to make people think you’re a great person while being the exact opposite.

      4. JelloStapler*

        Exactly. And if she is in a habit of giving out shady and false reports if she DOESN’T like you, even more so. IMO that only makes the situation more sketchy, not less.

      5. Working Hypothesis*

        I would seriously consider asking them again after Rachel has been gone a little while. Just so they know that she can’t hurt them. And honestly, I would probably suggest that Manny be the one to ask them, not OP. I guarantee you that the other employees know that OP has been siding with Rachel, and they’re not likely to trust OP either after that. (And seriously, what is UP, OP? How can you possibly argue to keep someone who is deliberately lying to you in order to conceal her persecution of an innocent employee?!?)

        1. Fishsticks*

          Yeah, I wouldn’t tell OP anything either if she was vocally siding with Rachel as far as thinking she shouldn’t have been fired, she just made a mistake, etc. Even if the employees DID honestly like her, some people will pick someone to treat poorly or scapegoat while treating everyone else more positively. So it’s still not really a reliable indicator when her ACTIONS speak otherwise.

      6. The Rules are Made Up*

        She could be one of those managers that plays favorites to an extreme and Jason was just NOT on her favorites list. Its possible she was perfectly pleasant to everyone else and reserved her mistreatment for the one that isn’t like her favorites (like in her mind everyone else loves WFH, so HE just isn’t a culture fit)

        1. Observer*

          This is where I am with DCcompliance. It wouldn’t matter. What she did is so egregious that even if she did in only to one person *who is still employed* it would still be a firing offense.

          I still think that it’s highly unlikely that no one had a clue and they all love her. But ultimately, it doesn’t matter. Also, there will never be any way for the OP to find out, because they are not someone any reasonable person in their department will trust.

        2. hbc*

          Heck, who knows how she’s cheated things in her employees’ favor in the past? Everyone loves the manager who says “Don’t bother taking vacation time, I got you” and “This required training is useless, I’ll just mark everyone as having attended.”

          1. JTB*

            Or given better tasks to people she favors. The ones with fewer complications, a better chance of making them look good, while giving the harder ones to people like Jason. A general audit of how she performed as manager with a much more honest information gathering process might be useful.

    3. T.N.H.*

      Agreed. I get that they checked in with her team but there are likely other red flags somewhere that have yet to be discovered or were similarly overlooked.

      1. Candi*

        There’s also the question of how safe the team felt answering honestly. OP would probably bring Rachel back if Manny wasn’t overriding her, and the employees likely know it. HR was doing the questioning in the letter, but OP clearly got ahold of the results and is still siding with Rachel.

    4. El l*

      Yeah, agree with all the sentiments. What I can’t understand:

      Why feel more betrayed by Manny than by Rachel? Why be more upset about someone acting arguably-too-quickly than someone who lied to your face? (And not just a little lie, but a big one, and for an unnecessary reason)

      1. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

        That’s a REALLY good point and makes me wonder if LW is part of the reason the employees didn’t feel comfortable telling her about Rachel (if that’s indeed what happened).

      2. Escapee from Corporate Management*

        Especially since this is, for almost anyone in senior management, an obvious action. I agree with Alison: Manny didn’t speak to you because there was no need to. The fact that you are disagreeing would be more of a concern to me (and possibly Manny) if you were my direct report.

      3. goddessoftransitory*

        In a way it’s like the cliche’ of the cheated on person being angry at the friend who told them “I saw your spouse at the No Tell Motel with So and So” and not their lying cheating partner.

        Manny did the right thing and Rachel the very, very wrong one.

    5. Siege*

      I can speak directly to this. A coworker of mine was fired (back in 2011 before wfh, etc) based on a falsified writeup in her file. The writeup claimed that she had logged in and out of her personal email or Facebook at a rate that would mean she was completing a full login/logout every two seconds, 24 hours a day. It was, suspiciously (I say, knowing it was false) unsigned by her when it was pulled out as the full justification for her firing. The knock-on effects were these:

      1) her boss was able to falsify the claim of the use of personal social media because she had fired the head of IT for not working on a weekend after she told him not to work on that weekend (the office was moving locations). There was no one willing to challenge her claim left.
      2) my friend had noted an anecdotal and actual (ie writeups) mistreatment of her by her boss as the only parent of a school-aged child (who happened to be special needs) in the organization, and probable mistreatment based on her weight and visible symptoms of PCOS; she did not suit the “dynamic thin attractive young professional” vibe her boss wanted.
      3) my friend consulted a lawyer after literally everyone told her that she had a case, and the lawyer agreed. For reasons I don’t agree with, she chose not to sue.
      4) I was later fired, despite not reporting to that manager, for egregious offenses such as accessing DeviantArt for free Photoshop brushes, a use I had to clear with my boss and the later-fired head of IT, who both agreed it was appropriate in my role, and because I supposedly spent all my time giving the actual middle finger to my coworkers (…what?), along with a few other very bizarre claims (I didn’t want to go to the Christmas party because my direct coworkers, including my boss, were icing me out, which was spun to them claiming that I had made violent threats against them. In case you were curious, my state’s unemployment board agreed that only made sense if I was immediately terminated, not fired six weeks later.) My opinion is that I was actually fired because my friend’s boss knew I was her friend and knew I believed her and knew I was advocating for her to sue everyone she could find. And I also do not fit the “dynamic and thin and attractive young professionals” club.

      I don’t know what happened after that, but it’s quite possible there was more cleaning house. But three people lost their jobs over one person’s power trip, and for me it marked the start of SIX YEARS of un- and underemployment, with all of the effects around lifetime earnings, retirement, stability, and etc you would expect. Yes, I am still angry about this, for everyone harmed by my friend’s boss’s narcissistic need to create a culture of scared, dynamic, attractive young professionals.

      But all of that is to say that a falsified writeup doesn’t exist in a vacuum, ethics-wise, and assuming you can keep someone on who will do that, particularly over something as ridiculous over wfh preferences, is a serious error in thinking. The person who will do that is a liar, plain and simple. If absolutely nothing else, it can (and should) open the company up to legal action, and the fact Jason quit rather than waited to get fired so he could die the company’s pants off speaks to his high ethical character. He suffered a material penalty for not liking wfh! How could you POSSIBLY trust that Rachel isn’t penalizing her reports for their preferences on everything from shoe styles to religious affiliation?!? She took it personally that he didn’t like the same way of working she does!

      I’m reminded of the letter from the person whose colleague stole an intern’s jacket; the LW insisted, despite video footage of her wearing the jacket, that her coworker was undeniably a good person because the LW liked her. Manny’s actions were prompt and correct, and I’m glad he took them. Rachel shouldn’t be managing ANYONE.

      1. The Person from the Resume*

        You are not the only person who suggests that Jason can take legal action. What legal action are you looking for? What was illegal?

        It’s pretty clear Jane’s issue was Jason wanted to work from the office which is not a protected class. He wasn’t even fired. Jason choose to quit because his boss was treating him poorly which is not illegal.

        1. Siege*

          Nothing, because Jason quit. If Jason had been terminated based on a pattern of false writeups, he would have cause to pursue unjust termination. Most organizations have a limit on how many writeups you can receive and stay employed, and who knows where Rachel’s unmoored ethical compass will lead her to write future unwarranted writeups?

        2. WindmillArms*

          He wasn’t fired for wanting to work from home. He was fired because of whatever false accusation Rachel made up and put in his PIP.

        3. Siege*

          And to clarify, my statement that he could seek legal redress was based on the unmet conditional of being fired, as my friend’s situation demonstrated. I was very clear that if he had been fired he could sue. I did not say that he could quit and then sue; while there are situations where someone can do that, this certainly doesn’t seem to rise to the level needed because there’s no demonstrated pattern of harassment that made staying in the job unsafe, for example.

          1. I have RBF*

            I wonder if the falsified write-up could be construed as constructive dismissal or hostile workplace?

            IANAL, so I don’t know if I’m talking out of my backside here.

        4. Observer*

          What legal action are you looking for? What was illegal?

          I doubt he could win a case, but I could see the company settling with him. Because what she SAID was that he shouldn’t be working from the office due to his being single, not a parent nor a caregiver, and lives alone. Depending on locality, this could implicate family status, and possibly her stereotypes about women vs men.

          1. I am Emily's failing memory*

            Yeah, even if I wasn’t overly concerned about legal action arising from this specific situation, I would be deeply uncomfortable to have a manager on staff who is openly pointing to employee’s family status as a defense of her management decisions. She’s operating in a manner that is very likely to put the company in a compromising legal position sooner or later, even if not in this specific case.

          2. yala*

            I wonder if maybe some compensation for the raise he was entitled to and didn’t get because of her lies?

      2. TootsNYC*

        a falsified writeup doesn’t exist in a vacuum, ethics-wise,

        I’ve read an essay in which someone says that if you have a problematic sexual harasser on your staff, you need to look at their expense reports. That may be the simpler way to fire them.

        Because that sense of entitlement and that lack of ethics doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It will show itself in other ways.

    6. Chilipepper Attitude*

      Remember the beer run team and manager that did not like a young woman who did not like the beer runs and they pushed her out. Rachel is giving me those vibes. She has probably been shaping her team so she only has folks who agree with her and her style.

      1. Totally Minnie*

        And this LW is reminding me of the letter where a coworker was caught on video stealing the interns coat, but that LW was refusing to believe the coworker also stole the credit cards from the coat’s pocket because he coworker was a good person.

        Sometimes a person we think is good turns out to be not good. And it’s really uncomfortable to have to sit with that new knowledge and realize we’ve been deceived. But LW, you *have* to reckon with that. Rachel is not the person you thought she was, and you can’t keep fighting for this imaginary person now that you have evidence of who the real Rachel is.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          To dust off that Angelou quote, “Believe them the first time.”

          One reason thieves and liars get away with so much is we don’t want to believe there are people in our lives who can be pleasant and kind and easy to talk to while stealing from us and lying about us. We don’t want to think we’re stupid or gullible, and we defend our imaginary version of someone, sometimes to very bitter end consequences, rather then face that.

      2. Candi*

        Or the manager who chased off an attractive team member*. That manager at least got better. But a lot of her initial justifications sound like OP’s.

        *”I’m jealous of my attractive employee, working for free when changing careers, and more”

    7. Observer*

      Also, rarely is behavior like this the first time it has occurred. I guarantee you Rachel has done other shady stuff that you either don’t know about or have proof of

      I’d be willing to bet that this is true.

      But in terms of firing, it does not really matter. Because even if it’s the first time, it says something about what she is willing to do. She is clearly willing to do what she wants just because she wants to, and she’s willing to do whatever it takes, legal or not, honest or not, to make it happen. How could you EVER trust her again? Anything less than firing tells her that *you* are either stupid enough that if she tweaks her work she’ll be able to pull the wool over your eyes, or worse, that you really don’t care. And she’d be right! So she’s just going to figure out how to pull her shtick more carefully.

      Of course, you need to operate on the assumption that this was so slick that’s she’s probably done stuff before, because you now have to go back and look at all of her decisions and come through all of the documentation about what she’s done.

      1. thatoneoverthere*

        I agree this was probably not the first time she did something sketchy. I wonder if Rachel simply didn’t like Jason and was willing to do whatever to get him off the team.

    8. Clobberin' Time*

      “Shady stuff” may also be the real reason that Rachel was so angry about Jason working in the office, and why she wanted to hide her disciplining him from her own bosses. Her excuses for punishing him make absolutely no sense, and likely that’s because the real reasons are very bad ones. Say, if having all of her reports being 100% remote made it easier for Rachel to pretend to be at work when she wasn’t.

      1. shedubba*

        That struck me too, that her answers don’t make any sense. I think she either had some grudge against Jason that hasn’t been properly uncovered yet, or she’s doing something dishonest that she can only hide as long as her reports are all working remotely.

      2. Nick*

        I completely agree. Other commenters have been speculating that Rachel was trying to push Jason out because she didn’t like him, but that usually doesn’t motivate people to do something egregious like this. Much more likely that she had a nefarious purpose for wanting her whole time to WFH.

      3. Boof*

        Oooh, yes. It’s so interesting Rachel didn’t want anyone in the office; was it to hide something easier to catch in person? Is rachel secretly working a second job? (Kidding; tho attendance is the easiest thing that cones to mind)

        1. Candi*

          Rachel was allowed to WFH too and didn’t have come into the office at all to manage Jason. So it’s extra weird.

          Maybe it’s because if Jason is in the office it’s easier for others there to walk over and ask him if he’s talked with Rachel recently, instead of having to IM or call? But that doesn’t make sense either.

    9. Lalaluna*

      ….but even if it truly is her first offense, it’s a bad enough one that Rachel deserved to be fired. LW, plenty of people can be well-liked by their staff or other people and still do something egregious enough to be fired, even if it’s their first infraction. There are plenty of charming criminals, after all. Doesn’t make them not-criminals.

      And like others have already said here, there’s no way to PIP Rachel for falsifying documents. How would you ensure that Rachel never did that again? Dedicate your own time to reviewing every document, every word, every product that Rachel creates to make sure it is 100% correct/true? Have another staff person do that? Even if that were possible, why would you want to invest your time/your employer’s time in doing that?

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        Yep. If Rachel had murdered someone no reasonable person would go “but she’s never even slapped any of the other employees before!” It doesn’t matter if she was an angel who knitted shawls for orphan kittens up until now.

        1. Worldwalker*

          Aw, that’s such a cute image. :) Now I’m imagining a couple of baby kittens in little pastel shawls. A bit like the penguin sweaters.

          1. Candi*

            Google gives me better and more adorable results with “kittens wearing knitted cloaks” then “kittens wearing shawls.” Not that many pastels besides pink though.

        2. Lalaluna*

          Awww, I’d love a little shawl for my pet bunny. …but if the person who knitted it was my employee who then proceeded to falsify documents, I’d still fire them…shawl or no.

        3. Lalaluna*

          Aw, I’d love a little knitted shawl for my pet bunny! But if the person who knitted it was my employee who then proceeded to falsify documents, I’d still fire them. Shawl or no….

    10. Jess*

      That was my immediate thought too. Sure, she’s probably not done anything this serious before (one hopes!!) but there’s probably been a bunch of other little things that led up to the point where a) she thought she could do it and b) *she thought she could get away with it*

    11. Meghan*

      Yep. I think if I were Rachel’s manager I’d have to be going through every single write up she’d made in at least the last 3 years (to cover pre-pandemic) and talking to the employees about what their write ups were for. (Assuming in 3 Year’s she hasn’t made a ton of write ups)

      She literally caused an employee to lose money and then leave the company.

      Also though, does this company not require the PIP employee write up to be signed? Or if they do, did they let her write up be entered without a signature or did she possibly forge this employee’s signature?

      All in all what Rachel did is shocking and I hope LW can see that. If by no other method than to consider how OP would feel if they got a poor review/raise/etc. because of what they felt was an unfair write up and found out that their manager had falsified the write up because the write up went against company policy and then the company didn’t immediately fire this person. I’m guessing if LW puts herself in those shoes she might see exactly why Manny dropped the hammer without pause.

      1. Candi*

        “Assuming in 3 Year’s she hasn’t made a ton of write ups”

        Since they’re likely computerized, I’d at least be seeing if she plopped more on some people than others, and then find out why. Maybe the person’s crappy, or maybe they said they didn’t want to work overtime, period.

    12. should decide on a name*

      Also, rarely is behavior like this the first time it has occurred. I guarantee you Rachel has done other shady stuff that you either don’t know about or have proof of.

      This is painfully accurate.

  4. Justin*

    The company did the office return in exactly the right way – hey tell us what you want to do – and I guess she’s basically a photo-negative of the people who believe only good work happens in the office. The “gold standard” is choice and flexibility! Good riddance.

    And yeah, Manny was right, and this is concerning, she messed with this dude’s career. So now she’s screwed up her own. Oh well.

    1. Guacamole Bob*

      Yes! It’s totally beside the point, but Rachel’s view that being single and living alone are reasons that someone should want to work from home strikes me as totally bizarre. The flexible policy allows people who want more interaction with colleagues to come into the office – and Jason’s living situation is one where I imagine that the in-office option would be appealing to some people!

      1. Hi, I'm Troy McClure*

        Personally, one of the reasons I seem to like hybrid or in-office best is because it’s so lonely to be alone in the house all the time. It’s totally plausible that a single person living alone might feel like getting out a few days a week. Though of course Jason’s reasons are his business.

        1. Justin*

          I get bored at home. I don’t want to HAVE to go in, so I go in twice a week and it works. But the point is, choice!

        2. Lady Blerd*

          I work in office four times a week by choice. At the beginning of the pandemic, I was so happy to WFH thinking that I was built for this but I realized quickly that I do in fact need human contact, I just wanted them on my terms.

          1. Lalaluna*

            For me it completely depends on other factors in my living situation. I currently am close-by my immediate family and friends, so I could happily WFH every single day; my socialization meter can easily be filled by non-work people. But, previously I lived farther away from friends/family and probably would have been very lonely doing WFH 100%. Probably would have been fine doing a hybrid schedule, which is what I have now. Rachel is nuts thinking there’s a one-size-fits-all rationale for who should/should want to WFH.

          2. goddessoftransitory*

            I’m a person who really, really does not want work in my home environment–it’s my home and I want to keep it stress free, not associate my couch or table with “ugh, spreadsheets/problem clients/etc.” So I am very glad to go to work and then come home to my not-work space.

      2. DEJ*

        Single person here who completely agrees with this! The early days of Covid were incredibly isolating for me.

        1. workswitholdstuff*

          Ditto. I work mostly back in the office, because I *need* to interact with people, and my family are all a good 2 hrs away…

          I like the odd WFH when I need to do fiddly stuff, or concentrate on things (or, like this week, I needed to do some concentrated work *and* recover from a manic half term delivery family activities, which is my ‘interaction with people quota’ well over…)

          I like the choice!

        2. Oska*

          This! I honestly thought I’d thrive with WFH: I live rurally with lots of lovely places to go without any people around (which was a boon during the 6-feet-distance years), I’m an introvert, I love my home, I love cooking and looked forward to making fancy lunches, I could pet my cat whenever I wanted… I was miserable. I felt isolated and numb, and my tasks mostly didn’t involve much contact with my colleagues. My motivation was zero, and it impacted my relation with my tasks (which I had done for seven years without tiring of them before this) to the point where I asked to be moved into another position (any position!) in 2022.

          WFH isn’t for everyone.

      3. fleapot*

        Definitely bizarre, but I would wonder if it’s actually discriminatory as well. The implication is that her response was shaped, in part, by his marital/family status.

        The falsification is obviously grounds for firing in itself. Add in a the comment about a (probably?) protected characteristic as part of the rationale for the write-up, and I would bet that there’s a real concern about a lawsuit there. (Even more reason for OP to reflect on their judgement here.)

        1. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

          Oh hey, that’s a good point. Hadn’t occurred to me! She penalized him for not making a different decision, based (at least in part) on his marital and family status.

          1. TootsNYC*

            right! People think that means parents are protected, but it also means people without children are protected.

            1. I have RBF*


              Workplace decisions are not supposed to be made based on a person’s marital or parental status. This is for the protection of people with all kinds of situations. (The only people who can sort of do this is the military, but that’s a whole different ball of wax.)

              My compensation and remote work status should not be determined by my marital status or whether I have offspring living at home. I would be horrified if it was. I sought out remote work for my own reasons, but my employer was not aware of these reasons and didn’t need to be.

      4. daffodil*

        I got stuck on this too. Times I was single and living alone I needed to do things outside of the house with other humans regularly or my mental health suffered dramatically.

      5. PepperVL*

        Exactly! As someone who lives alone, the start of the pandemic was HARD. I’m an introvert, but I need some social interaction. Weeks of just me and my cats was awful and my mental health definitely suffered. Add to that the fact that I don’t have a good place to set up at home, and I was clambering to get back into the office.

        1. Nick*

          I think you mean “clamoring” to get back into the office. “Clambering” is what your cat does on a cat tree!

        2. workswitholdstuff*

          Me too – and I don’t even have cats. I hated the complete self-isolation. I managed a little bit interaction with a pal by dropping off heavy groceries when I was picking up my click and collect orders, and we’d take our ‘hours outdoor activity’ side by side by walking round a park together.

          I was relieved in the UK when they let us singletons form ‘Bubbles’ with others eventually. I was down the A1 to my parents pretty bloody pronto – that first hug when I saw them felt bloody amazing.

      6. ceiswyn*

        Speaking as someone who is single and lives alone (with my cat) – that is ABSOLUTELY why I come into the office. Because otherwise I might not have a real life conversation for days or even weeks, and go nuts.

          1. goddessoftransitory*

            I get that “I’m not mad, just disappointed” look from Peanut enough to know he understands me totally.

      7. MigraineMonth*

        Being a caretaker is often the *reason* people want flexibility to WFH. If you’re taking care of a sick kid or a grandparent, you sometimes need to be able to WFH.

      8. linger*

        Likely, Rachel’s stated reasoning for trying to force WFH on Jason is only a cover for her actual reasoning that remote reports = worse equipped to catch Rachel out in falsifying documents and whatever other fraud she was up to. Because you know she had to have been up to more.

        1. Worldwalker*

          This does put me in mind of someone in accounting being required to take a full 7 consecutive days of vacation so that their past year can be audited. What is it that Rachel was afraid Jason would find out if he was in the office and she wasn’t?

      9. Katherine*

        Yeah. I had the option of working from home today because my classes were canceled, but honestly, I get a lot more done if I’m in the office. I feel like less of a slug, too.

      10. Catalyst*

        100% I came here to say, I am single and live alone and it is one of the reasons why I am happy to have a flexible company where I can come to the office to see and converse other humans when I want to! It gets a bit lonely and boring sometimes working from home.

    2. Pippa K*

      Yeah, I actually wondered if the LW had flipped the details on Rachel’s viewpoint to try to avoid derailing on the WFH-vs-return to office debate that always kicks off. Not that it really matters what Rachel’s actual views were, I guess; the issue (that the LW doesn’t seem to grasp!) is her dishonesty and deliberate harm to an employee. Rachel had to go, and if LW were at my job, I’d be really worried about what else she’s prepared to tolerate from managers.

      1. Qwerty*

        I’ve had a remote boss be not happy with people who went into the office so I wasn’t too surprised. I think it has to do with control – it is easier to isolate people who are remote. Going to the office means making friends with people on other teams, hearing information from different sources, getting to tell people about your team’s working conditions. Also can mean not being immediately available for an unscheduled call due to needing to find a phone room or being in the break room at the time the request comes in.

        1. Observer*

          That’s a really good point. Given that she’s clearly trying to cover stuff up, trying to make sure that people don’t chat with each other makes sense.

        2. MassMatt*

          Interesting thoughts on this mindset. I had to re-read the letter because I’d assumed Rachel was punishing the employee for wanting to WFH while everyone else went into the office (possibly due to her browbeating them). Managers (at least bad ones) seem to fall on the “remote work is bad, I need to see your butt in its seat!” kind of mentality.

          It just makes Rachel all the more bonkers. Kudos to this company for letting individual employees decide whether to WFH or not, though.

        3. Pippa K*

          Oh, very good point about isolation and control of communication between colleagues. The larger situation with Rachel could be quite grim, along these lines.

        4. Belle of the Midwest*

          These are all really good points, Qwerty. Maybe Jason had the sense that Rachel had a bullseye on his back and going to the office was a way for him to be visible to other teams and supervisors onsite.

      2. delazeur*

        “Yeah, I actually wondered if the LW had flipped the details on Rachel’s viewpoint to try to avoid derailing on the WFH-vs-return to office debate that always kicks off.”

        That’s a great point! It really threw me off that Rachel believes WFH is the “gold standard” because I simply haven’t heard that from anyone, including ardent WFH supporters. It would make sense if LW had flipped the details.

        On the other hand, if Qwerty is correct that Rachel prefers WFH because it enables her to isolate and control her employees, LW and Manny have some serious work to do cleaning this mess up.

      3. DisgruntledPelican*

        I mean, we see in this comment section all the time that there are people who are just as unreasonable about WFH being the best thing ever everybody can do and want as people on the other side. I don’t think there’s any reason to think the details were switched.

        1. I have RBF*

          As a remote employee I can understand why people might want to work on site. My manager at a previous job preferred to work in the office because his home was small and he had small kids at home that interfered with his concentration. IMO, when people have the flexibility and choice, like the LWs company offered, is the best of both worlds.

      4. goddessoftransitory*

        She caused measurable fiscal harm to Jason and measurable fiscal harm to the company when Jason told them to kick rocks! If I were this company’s legal department there would be a new team formed called “Checking Everything Rachel Has Ever Done.”

        1. Candi*

          Maybe Manny’s working on it -it’s probably reasonably clear to him that OP thinks Rachel is the best thing and only needs a few cracks repaired.

    3. Ama*

      Yes that’s another thing OP seems to be missing here, it’s bad enough that Rachel decided to punish Jason and lie about it to management (and I agree that she should be fired for that alone) — but she also went directly against the company’s established policy to do so, which indicates that she thinks she can pick and choose which of the company’s rules she can follow based on her own preferences. You do not want that in a manager.

      This is kind of on my mind right now because I have had to communicate a WFH policy I very much do not agree with to my direct report (although in my case it’s that I think our hybrid policy is too rigid and in the interest of “treating everyone fairly” it ends up doing the exact opposite and punishing my report for a specific issue that only affects her). I have pushed back to senior management but have been told that this is the policy and it isn’t changing, so I have no choice but to follow it.

  5. Hi, I'm Troy McClure*

    Someone who is willing to LIE about a person they have power over, to the point of falsifying documentation, is a person who cannot be trusted with any power whatsoever. This is so egregious. Managers (or teachers, or in theory political leaders) should be held to a higher standard because the stakes for the people lower down in the hierarchy are so much more consequential than they are for the authority figure.

    I don’t want to be unnecessarily unkind to OP, but if I worked with her, I would be seriously concerned if I heard her express things like this – especially after such a dishonest action on Rachel’s part.

    1. Tiffany In Houston*

      All of the above!! If you will lie about a performance review, you’ll lie about other things, perhaps sexual or racial discrimination, or potential safety issues at the job site. OP needs to really think hard about why they think keeping a liar employed is justified.

    2. Engineer*

      LW is viewing Rachel’s actions as a mistake, but they’re a mistake the same way an affair is a mistake – not at all. A series of *very* deliberate actions were taken that expose a serious character flaw. As you say, managers have to be held to a higher standard, and an action like this means firm, swift consequences. What else is she willing to lie about? What else is she willing to *falsify*? And is that risk your company is willing to take?

      1. Akcipitrokulo*

        A “mistake” lie would be being unexpectedly asked by boss “was that you I saw doing (embarrassing thing) at the weekend?” and saying “No!”.

        This is not a mistake lie.

      2. TootsNYC*

        how many opportunities did Rachel have to NOT do what she did? How many times did she have to go out of her way to do what she did?

      3. JTB*

        This was most definitely not a mistake. Rachel purposefully did two versions of the write-up, one to retaliate at Jason for not continuing to work from home as she desired and the other to cover her tracks. It’s possible that’s why the rest of her team were all positive, the threat of disciplinary paperwork and I’ll echo the other commenters who say an audit of anything she’s touched is in order. I’ll also add that LW shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near this audit because they’ve already demonstrated a conflict of interest when it comes to Rachel.

        What is worrying is that LW doesn’t at any point condemn what Rachel did nor acknowledge what she did as wrong (just a neutral this is what happened but it can be addressed), and is more annoyed Manny fired her. This suggests LW had a stake in her continued employment, either a professional interest or investment, or maybe a personal one.

    3. 3DogNight*

      Yes! She falsified the write up, then further lied in his annual review. Further lied by (probably) not allowing merit pay increases. This goes really far beyond just falsifying the write up. The ripples will continue for a long time. I’m willing to bet that over time some of those people on her team will get more comfortable and come out with the crazy.

      1. Properlike*

        Also lied to the OP and HR about the reason for the write-up. They know there’s a write-up, which influences *their* view of Jason. What if someone else from the industry runs into OP and asks about Jason as an employee? OP is depending on Rachel’s information, thinking it’s real.

    4. Dust Bunny*

      [Like button]

      So I hope Manny knows now that he can’t trust the LW, either, if she doesn’t think this was fireable.

      Also, LW, if you got fired because someone lied about you about something that you were completely in the right to do, how would you want that handled?

    1. Guacamole Bob*

      Yes. The coaching and closer supervision approach that OP describes is for performance issues like project delays or being sloppy about proofreading. This is about whether you can trust Rachel to act with integrity, and I don’t really see how she can come back from this.

      1. Em*

        This. It’s called a /Performance/ Improvement Plan and is rarely the right tool for conduct issues. What are you going to write on it? Don’t falsify documents?

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          It’s like that letter from the person who had a coworker taking pictures of herself by the LW’s desk with her pants down to post on a website. That kind of conduct and judgement can’t really be fixed with a PIP.

      2. Eulerian*

        Yes. What, exactly, are you coaching?

        “Have you ever wanted to discipline an employee without cause and lie about it to your superiors so that you can get an innocent person in trouble?

        Here we say… don’t do that.”

        “Oh, ok! That’s great to know! This training is great, I am now a better manager!”

    2. Peanut Hamper*

      This was my thought as well. Falsification of documentation is a serious breach of protocol anywhere and it simply not tolerable. And they ended up loosing Jason over this, as well.

      I think LW is a bit too angry about Manny firing Rachel to see the big picture here.

      And to be fair, I’m sure Manny could have handled this differently, but I’m not sure that I would have handled it any differently. Every bit of paperwork that Rachel has ever signed off on is now suspect.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Every bit of paperwork that Rachel has ever signed off on is now suspect.
        This was in fact the direct strategy of the last Leverage episode I watched.

        This is why “email like it’s being read aloud at a deposition” is a thing–Rachel’s intent for it not to come out was not sufficient to actually align all the documentation.

        “It’s not the crime that gets you, it’s the cover-up” seems to be today’s theme. Particularly re ever trusting this person again when you find them covering up.

    3. NotAnotherManager!*

      Same. If one of my managers pushed back on firing someone for this sort of incident, I’d lose faith in their judgment and be watching them much more closely, reviewing their documentation, and checking in with their team.

      The disparity between the write-up she gave Jason and the one in the HR file is firable in and of itself. The punishment of someone for exercising company-provided choice in his work location would be pretty close to fireable, if a true first offense. Rachel should not be managing people.

      1. Uranus Wars*

        Yeah, to me the fireable offense is not writing him up for WFH in this instance. I don’t agree with it but that can training/coaching/etc. that you can’t just interpret things on your own, watching for patterns, etc. and tearing up the write up when it was submitted. Had it been submitted correctly.

        All reasons that it is fireable have been stated over and over and I have nothing to add there.

    4. Akcipitrokulo*

      Honestly, I’d be looking at further coaching/support/shadowing for OP given this lapse of judgement.

      1. Siege*

        Same. I would really want to dig in on why OP doesn’t see this as an ethical lapse, and whether they have strange ideas about other ethical lapses. What if Rachel was stealing purses, would that also be a PIP? (“Don’t steal purses” doesn’t really seem coachable.) Defending someone who has just made it clear they act in very unethical ways is, uh, evaluating that person on incomplete information at best.

        1. DyneinWalking*

          A lot of people seem to struggle with the idea that a lot of crimes/wrongdoings are committed by regular people who aren’t mustache-twirling supervillains. There are two fallacies at play, in fact, which are mirror images of each other: 1) that serious misconducts are only committed by thoroughly corrupted, supervillain-style people and 2) that someone whom you have come to know of as nice can therefore not be a bad person who deserves punishment/serious consequences.
          You encounter this idea really often on the internet and it turns up here a lot, too. The truth, of course, is that people are complex. Hardly anyone behaves despicably in every part of life and at all times, that’s not even the case for universally-hated dictators. If you refused to discipline people because they acted nice before that (at some times, to specific people…), you’d never get to discipline anyone.

          People need to realize that most of the egregious behavior they’ll encounter in their lives will be committed by otherwise perfectly people and that this cannot be a reason to not impose consequences. Harm is caused regardless of intent and general niceness.

    5. Naomi*

      Yes, when I read the headline, I was expecting some extraordinary mitigating circumstance, like the letter where an employee framed a coworker for fraud because she was being abused and wanted to contact the police behind her husband’s back. In that case, there was room for sympathy that the abused employee was afraid for her own safety and acted out of desperation. But in this case, if anything, the full story makes Rachel look worse. She was sore that Jason made a different choice than she did–as he had permission to do–and to defend herself she gave paternalistic reasons why she knew what was best for him. I could see going easy on someone who lied with good intentions, but Rachel lied to punish Jason for a petty grudge.

    6. Becca*

      I feel like the LW focused in on the original “mistake/misjudgement” of writing up an employee for following company-wide policies and I can see why she might feel that isn’t clear-cut, you can argue about the merits of wfh vs mandatory in office working and whether an individual manager should be able to decide what works for her team. Unfortunately in focussing on that she seems to have completely missed the fraud element.

      It’s the fraud element that is the closer – she lied and she committed fraud to cover up going against company policy (rather than having misunderstood the policy or deciding to argue her case for her team having a specific need to work in office) – and OP seems not to be thinking about that bit.

    7. Tesuji*

      It’s bizarre to me that the LW doesn’t grasp that *she* has two strikes against her in this situation, both for failing to properly supervise/train Rachel and for thinking what Rachel did is no big deal.

      Honestly, if I were Manny, I’d be reevaluating the situation, wondering if there’s a reason why Rachel thought she could get away with something this egregious, and perhaps whether there’s one more person who needs to be cut loose.

  6. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

    Rachel made an irrational decision, based purely on her own preferences, that was directly contradictory to company policy.
    Rachel then lied about that decision.
    Rachel’s decision led to an employee quitting on bad terms.

    Three strikes, you’re out.

    1. Fluffy Fish*

      Don’t forget her lie didn’t just lead to quitting, it affected his annual performance appraisal.

      I don’t want to be unkind to OP but I really do not understand on what planet OP thinks this is a coachable misstep and not a vivid demonstration of someone fundamentally, morally and ethically unsuited to have power over others.

      1. Some words*

        Because it may demonstrate a similar fundamental lack of ethical understanding on their part as well.

        Voluntarily requesting additional ethics and management coaching might not be a bad idea. And take it to heart. LW your POV in this situation is off-kilter.

      2. Observer*

        I don’t want to be unkind to OP but I really do not understand on what planet OP thinks this is a coachable misstep and not a vivid demonstration of someone fundamentally, morally and ethically unsuited to have power over others.

        On a planet where the OP also has questionable ethics? Where their power is more important than ethics or even common sense?

        The OP spends a lot of time explaining just how RIDICULOUS Rachel’s issue is, yet they still don’t see that it’s a firing offense – because they seem to see “My turf” as most important than just about anything else.

      3. Uranus Wars*

        I think Becca hit the nail on the head above in stating that OP is focusing on the real reason for the write up that was given to Jason. As well as feeling “out of the loop” and is missing the entire falsification reasoning. Not justifying, just trying to understand myself.

  7. Barbarella*

    “Jason quit for another job and during his exit interview he said Rachel’s anger about his decision was the reason.”

    That really stood out to me. This site is pretty anti-candor in exit interviews, but there are times when candor does good.

    1. Richard Hershberger*

      True, but this also is an extraordinary circumstance. I don’t see any reason to believe that Jason knew Rachel had falsified his paperwork. It seems to have just come out in the discussion.

      1. Anne of Green Gables*

        True, but I agree that this lends credibility to one of the things that Alison points out a lot–just because you *think* the people above your manager knows what is going on, doesn’t mean they *actually* know what is going on. I mean, I wish Jason had gone to HR when he first got the review and stated something like, “This seems directly in conflict with company policy as related to us by CEO or HR or whomever, can you explain to me why it is in my performance review?” But I get why he didn’t, and I think that sometimes stating things in an exit interview can shed light on something that people were previously unaware of.

        1. Smithy*

          This letter does bring to mind the letter from yesterday with OP/Joe/Cora and Joe’s decision to just look for another job.

          While Manny may not have 100% not supported what Rachel was doing – how was Jason to know the difference in that view vs the OP’s? And if all of Jason’s other coworkers on that team really like reporting to Rachel, being in a situation where you are viewed as the reason Rachel is terminated or even just reprimanded heavily reprimanded? None of that sounds appealing in a regular work environment. And depending on the type of work you do, there may not be another kind of team you can be transferred to in the same workplace.

          Even with Manny-type support, sometimes moving on truly is an amazing way to start fresh.

        2. Ro*

          It is possible HR have to confirm a write up depending on the process. If this is the case and HR were confirming what they thought was a write up for being repeatedly late/missing deadlines it is possible Jason thought “HR/grandboss/whoever has seen this and hasn’t pushed back saying it is batshit crazy therefore the company are clearly lying about policy”. That wouldn’t be unreasonable from his perspective.

      2. Butterfly Counter*

        I can see how that happened.

        Jason: The company stated that they would respect employees’ choices to stay at home or return to the office. I was punished for my choice, so I can’t trust what the company officially says in writing, so I’m leaving for another job.

        Interviewer: Whaaaaa????

    2. Warrior Princess Xena*

      In fairness this site gets a lot of bias in that people tend to write in more frequently when they have dysfunctional workplaces. Constructive criticism is a gift only offered to those workplaces who have demonstrated that they won’t penalize people in return. This is not something we see in a lot of dysfunctional places.

      1. Siege*

        Yep. If the whole organization is toxic, an honest exit interview is a bucket of water on a forest fire. If one person (or a very small group, like that person and their boss) are toxic, a bucket of water might put out the fire.

      2. metadata minion*

        It’s also inherently hard to tell if critiques you give in an exit interview are taken to heart, unless you stay friends with coworkers or whatever. So we’re going to mostly hear about either employers who clearly don’t give a bag of llama poops about anything their employees say, OR something dramatic like this where it’s very very obvious that they weren’t aware of a terrible situation and are now going to fix it. We don’t hear about when three employees in a row mention scheduling policies as a reason for leaving and then the administration, however grudgingly, makes relevant changes.

    3. Qwerty*

      Also, picking the battle to focus on one issue. Jason didn’t present a laundry list against Rachel, though he probably had one. He stuck to one egregious example that he thought HR already knew about. HR should have received a copy of the write and Jason probably had no idea he’d been given a different version.

      When I see exit interviews have an impact, its because people raised one issue and seemed pleasant for the rest of the interview so they didn’t look disgruntled. Usually the issue is less egregious so the outcome might be less dramatic or might take multiple people saying it before real action takes place.

  8. RunShaker*

    I was really surprised the OP didn’t want to fire Rachel. It was obvious she needed to be fired. Looking at this as a manager and/or employee on her team, I wouldn’t be able to ever trust her. What Rachel did was shady and unethical. OP, I’m wondering if you need to think about your management style and how it affects and seen by your team. If I was Manny and knew you felt this way, it would give me pause.

    1. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      I’m seconding this recommendation. Not taking appropriate action on things as egregious as what she did is what allows toxic managers to stay in their positions for so long.

      Just because a lot of people like her, doesn’t make this not a fireable offense. Think of it in other terms / what if a man was a pillar of his community, beloved at work, and then sexually harassed someone. Zero tolerance for that. Sexual harassment is a character flaw, just like deliberately lying to hurt a person Rachel had power over – and then covering it up! It’s not an error in judgment (I mean perhaps it is, but it’s a serious one that disregards people’s basic rights).

    2. Sparkles2013*

      I was thinking the same. And if I was an employee that happened to find out about it I would be asking for a different manager or looking for a new job.

    3. Mallory Janis Ian*

      What level of egregious behavior toward her reports does she think merits firing? I would never be able to trust her as my manager; that she would allow her employees to suffer under Rachel and do nothing more than a warning for a major unethical transgression that affected someone’s life and livelihood is just intolerable, and the big boss was right to dismiss Rachel immediately.

  9. L-squared*

    Honestly, the fact that you didn’t want to fire her kind of calls into question your own decision making as a manager.

    1. greg*

      Completely agree. I wonder if there’s some underlying feeling from the LW that they agree with Rachel’s view on remote work and that is coming through here?

      It’s likely Rachel also loved WFH however felt like her employee being in office made her look poorly and that is the real reason she was so against it.

      1. Working Hypothesis*

        Honestly, the whole question of whether or not remote work is great (and I’m very much on the yes side of that question) is so irrelevant to this issue that I’m not sure I would expect OP to agree or disagree or even think about it.

        I suspect it’s mostly about not wanting to have to hire a replacement, when OP could count on Rachel to do what was convenient for OP, even if not what is ethical towards her reports. Some managers will do a lot in order to avoid losing an employee who’s been useful *to them*, whatever horrible things she may have done to everybody else.

        1. Luca*

          Yes. I wasn’t there then, but at a past employer I heard of an executive who tried to keep his embezzling assistant by offering to reimburse the firm out of his own pocket.

    2. Goldie*

      I think her inability to hear out the perspective of her supervisor and to see herself as the employer (rather than an agent of the employer) is really concerning too.

  10. Kacihall*

    Did like this is why I know take a picture of every write up (or ‘verbal warning’ that’s always written down) I get, because a paper copy could theoretically be forged or from a different, later date, but photos are time stamped and saved in my cloud storage with a date and time. I’ve been fired and told it was because of an issue that was borderline illegal (which was stupid, because I had only been there 3 months and was in an at-will state) but the official reason she put down for unemployment was that I had missed shifts (which, admittedly, I had – because she changed the schedule whenever she felt, often for the next day and after I’d left).

    She got fired shortly after for egregious policy breaking, but my unemployment claim was still firmly denied because she had papers and I didn’t. So now I save proof of everything. (Though the last writeup I got was for saying I was bisexual during a conversation a coworker started about swinging and sexuality so I made her uncomfortable – I may frame that for my next office.)

      1. Kacihall*

        Not in Indiana! The official cause written down was I made the other employee uncomfortable by discussing my sexuality, as though I just brought it up out of the blue instead of participating in a discussion about various sexualities (that SHE started.) It was implied I was sexuality harassing her. Discussing relationships is only okay if it’s your current, hetero fanatical at work, apparently.

        I brought in a bi flag on a Mickey pin which is now on my cork board since its not cold enough for my coat every day. If someone complains about that I will go nuclear. A pink and blue and purple Mickey silhouette is only offensive if you’re insane. (And the coworker has pineapple deco on HER desk.)

    1. Luanne Platter*

      the coworker started talking about swinging, but YOU made her uncomfortable?
      that’s so incredibly unprofessional on the coworker’s part.

      1. Kacihall*

        She was talking about ‘someone else’ and I was talking about MY OWN preferences. I mean, on pretty sure it’s the same as when someone asks about their friend for advice when it’s really themselves, but I have no proof and I don’t want any because I wasn’t bothered. I don’t know, all I know is that she reported it as though I started the conversation.

        My office isn’t exactly a great example of ‘professional’ and I take advantage of that, so I put up with some of the unprofessional stuff. I’m still here because I finally got my raise (13 months after my promotion!) and I’m making more here than anywhere else in my town. Plus I don’t need a car for transportation.

        The negative aspects are adding up though.

  11. Sloanicota*

    I’m not getting into Rachel’s offense which I think others will address, but if I were Manny, I’d be annoyed that OP is undermining my authority here. The right line to me is “give me a heads-up on your decisions, but I will rarely step in to counteract them.” It sounds like OP wants to always keep a finger in management, but not do the day-to-day work of managing, which sounds good in theory but in practice often results in employees knowing they may be able to weasel their way between OP and the managers, like children do when one parent says something they don’t want to hear. That makes a manager’s job much harder, IMO.

    1. Sloanicota*

      Wait, I think I misunderstood the relationships involved – I thought it was the more senior person writing in. My bad. Please disregard.

    2. Fluffy Fish*

      Despite your misunderstanding there’s still something valid in there – how exactly is OP managing?

      They should take a good look at this and see if they are too hands off or too I believe everything my managers say without question or evaluation.

      1. Pierrot*

        Yeah, exactly. The fact that LW was Rachel’s manager when Rachel falsified the documents and didn’t know Andrew’s perspective speaks to a lack of oversight. LW’s job isn’t to micromanage her reports, but it sounds like Andrew was unhappy with management enough to leave his job and LW had no idea. For the future, I think LW should focus on fostering an environment where people can come to her with any serious issues they are having with their managers who report to LW. Like ideally if someone gets written up for a ridiculous reason like not working from home, that person should feel empowered to bring their concerns to their “grand boss”.

        The way that the LW isn’t recognizing the severity of Rachel’s actions kind of explains why Andrew didn’t go to her in the first place.

        1. Escapee from Corporate Management*

          Excellent points. OP, when a direct report of yours is fired for unethical behavior, your management will want to know, at least, why you didn’t catch it and what you can do in the future to ensure it doesn’t happen again. Saying it’s not a fireable offense? That will ratchet up the inquiry into YOUR role in this event.

        2. Grammar Penguin*

          To be fair, LW had no idea because she’d been lied to by someone she had every reason to trust. You’re right that an environment that encourages people to skip their immediate boss or go to HR about problems they’re having with that boss. But if they’ve been sufficiently gaslit by that boss, they may assume that the rot comes from above. I have no doubt that Rachel was lying to her subordinates, discouraging them from going over her head, as much as to her superiors.

          1. Grammar Penguin*

            I mean that such an environment is what a manager hopes to achieve. Whoops, forgot to complete the sentence.

  12. Falling Diphthong*

    This is so interesting in light of yesterday’s question about whether it ever pays off to be honest in the exit interview. And I think this (and beer run manager’s case) are exactly where it might: The dysfunction is confined to one team, and the departure of a valued employee (the first valued employee, not the 17th) alerts upper management to the dysfunction, which they deeply care about uprooting. And they actually do something.

    People departing in that exact circumstance might find that an honest exit interview helped their colleagues left behind. When the criticism is more “the deep dysfunction at multiple levels” and there’s been a stream of resignations with no changes in that dysfunction, hoping you are the honest voice they finally listen to you is probably not your best strategy.

    1. greg*

      I instantly though of the beer run manager as well. The more I think about this LW the more I think they need to really do some self reflection on how they are running their teams.

    2. Insert Clever Name Here*

      I’ve only had one job where I was asked to do an exit interview and this is exactly why I was candid about the things that led me to leave and why I would be candid in the future — maybe they wouldn’t take the information and do anything with it, but maybe they will. Fully recognize that other people do a different calculus there, but for me it’s the thing that allowed me to close the book and walk confidently away from that job.

      And here HOLY GUACAMOLE the risk that would have been ongoing if Jason hadn’t been candid!

    3. Student*

      The thing is, it does not benefit the person who is being honest in the exit interview at all. Think about this from his perspective, not the co-workers.

      He still had to change jobs. He still had to deal with an angry boss messing with his performance reviews. Now, his former boss has been fired – which means he’s not likely to get any decent references out of this job. Rachel certainly won’t have any kind words for him if she’s contacted because she got fired, and whomever replaces her won’t likely be familiar with Jason’s work. If she hadn’t been fired, then Rachel might have possibly had some kind words about the work he did other than his wanting to work in the office.

      1. Siege*

        I disagree with all of this. Jason knows the culture better than we do, so maybe there was a serious reason to assume going to HR over the discrepancy between his review and his writeup seemed problematic. Maybe Manny is the only good manager there! But the fact is that we do not know whether Jason HAD to quit to get redress, we only know that he did. And further, he already has another job, so he got it without a reference from Rachel, which is not uncommon. And when he goes looking for the next job, Rachel could have been hit by a bus, the company could have gone out of business, the earth could have swallowed their HR department whole: there is no reason to assume that Rachel would be around to speak to his work, and further no reason to assume that she would give him a fair reference anyway, because she’s a petty jerk with no ethical sense.

        I don’t rely on references from people who demonstrate unethical behavior. There is absolutely no telling when they will choose to turn their lack of ethics in your reference. Suggesting that Jason shouldn’t have rocked the boat in order to get a good reference from a liar is … very interesting.

        1. Grammar Penguin*

          Yes, and Jason may have assumed that Rachel’s boss, the LW, would do nothing or would agree with Rachel. Considering LW’s response to her firing is to resent Manny, maybe Jason wasn’t wrong.

          LW, if Manny had come to you about this, and Rachel denied it all, what would you have done?

      2. BridgeofFire*

        If Rachel was upset enough about his decision to work remotely IN LINE WITH COMPANY POLICY to falsify a reason to write him up officially as opposed to her actual out-of-company-line reasoning and ding him on his performance evaluation for, again, something he did completely within the company policy that she personally disagreed with, I highly doubt she would have given him any kind of positive reference.

      3. Falling Diphthong*

        People do things that don’t directly benefit them, but do benefit others, all the time. Like, we let people merge into traffic.

        I think it’s perfectly valid to ask: Do I think I can give honest feedback with little risk professionally? And if the answer is yes, you might do it even if you expect it to have no effect, like Clever Name. Or you might not because you just want out of here with as little drama as possible.

        I can see, as here, the exit interview being a format where a well-run company catches “I’m leaving because management insists on X” and that is the first anyone in upper management is hearing about it, because the culture is such that employees assume no one at the top cares about X because X keeps happening. Ideally you find out earlier, in other ways, but “obviously they know” is a very common assumption that can be unfounded. Sometimes they didn’t know because stuff was being falsified, for example.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          Also, there are times to preserve the reference. But when a person has written you up for a nonsense charge as a way to exact revenge, they were not going to be a good reference. That way of thinking is very good two shoes, I followed the rules so things should be fair, and that is not how it works with petty power mad people–they don’t decide to be fair.

  13. DCompliance*

    I agree you should have been brought into the conversation. You being left out does not help you grow as a leader. I always include the direct manager in these conversation.

    However, falsification of records is as an ethics violations at my company. It is a offense that can warrant termination and would likely be recommended it this case.

    I wish you were brought into the conversation to understand why this is so serious.

    1. Littorally*

      Agreed. If everyone (other than Rachel I guess) were performing perfect management, Manny would have brought in OP and made sure they were part of the firing discussion — but at the end of the day, it’s a very minor sin at most that he didn’t. He 110% has the authority to say, this person has to be fired, period.

    2. NotAnotherManager!*

      My concern with including OP in the conversation is that their judgment seems to be off. I might have been concerned they might also tip of Rachel as to what was coming. You also don’t want someone who is strongly opposed to the firing and with suspect judgement in the meeting because that’s when people say things like, “If it were up to ME, I wouldn’t fire you.” or “You’re such a valuable member of the team, I can’t believe this is happening.” or something else that really livens up a termination claim.

      I do think it’s worthwhile, after the fact, for Manny to review the factors in the decision with OP and talk them through the decision. Manny needs to figure out why OP doesn’t think that this is terminable and if they understand the appropriate use of a PIP as well as the company’s policies.

      1. DCompliance*

        If she was a Compliance violation, she wouldn’t be included in the discussion of what the discipline should be. She would informed of what the outcome is and why. No discussion. If she shares what was said in confidential compliance investigation, then she gets terminated. If the investigator suspected in the course of the investigation she was bias, then should would be left out of the conversation and given discipline as well. At least that is how I run things.

      2. Panhandlerann*

        Exactly. I am wondering if Manny was expressly against bringing the OP in on the decision to fire this employee because Manny knew the OP would “side” with the employee and might in some way interfere with the firing.

      3. Observer*

        do think it’s worthwhile, after the fact, for Manny to review the factors in the decision with OP and talk them through the decision.

        Well, based on what the OP says, it looks like Manny DID explain his thinking. He told them that Rachel’s reasons for her behavior was out of line. In other words, the OP knows that Manny is thinking and they just don’t agree that it was “that bad”.

        Manny needs to figure out why OP doesn’t think that this is terminable and if they understand the appropriate use of a PIP as well as the company’s policies.

        This is true. And it’s not likely to go well with the OP, if they continue to push.

    3. Peanut Hamper*

      There was no conversation to be had. In cases like this, the person being fired is perp-walked out the door before they have a chance to fabricate any other paperwork.

      1. DCompliance*

        There is usually a conversation with Compliance and HR. Sometimes Legal. And the outcome is shared with Management. I probably should have said the outcome should have been directly shared with OP.

  14. FD*

    I think this is going to be at risk of a pile-on, and I don’t want to do that. I think my question for you is–why don’t you feel like this deserves immediate termination.

    I’m wondering if you feel like Rachel just made one mistake, and that her other service should count for something. In a lot of cases, that’s a really good instinct! People do foolish things sometimes, and you don’t want good employees to be afraid of the tiniest misstep.

    The problem here is that not only did she explicitly go against company policy, but she covered it up in a way that makes it extremely clear that she knew she was doing something wrong. That’s such a huge deal that it’s hard to see how the company could ever trust her to manage people again.

    Even if she had strong ethical objections to people returning to the office (e.g. she felt it wasn’t responsible to do so), she had so many ways that she could have responded that were more okay than what she did.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      I’m also interested in hearing more from OP about their thinking. All of the things you said are true, but I’m also caught in how *weird* this hangup of Rachel’s is. Of all the things to take this kind of action and risk over, this one just does not make sense to me. And I just can’t wrap my head around not firing someone for such an egregious action. One that cost an employee, one that showed comfort with abusing power, one that ultimately didn’t change or impact anything besides carrying out a random personal vendetta. I just want to understand why OP would let that pass. Genuinely, I want to get the perspective.

      1. greg*

        I suspect this weird hang up is Rachel being insecure that she has an employee in office and feels that it makes her look bad as a manager. She may not realize it but it wouldn’t shock me if that’s part of the underlying reason she’s so against her worker being in office.

        1. Butterfly Counter*

          People are very passionate about their side of preferring WFH and RTO. I wonder if Rachel was worried that Jason preferring to return to office would affect WFH in the long run (despite no evidence I can see from the LW), and is punishing him for threatening that?

        2. Fishsticks*

          I tend to agree with the other commenter who wondered if OP didn’t switch around Rachel’s stance on WFH (so that Jason was written up/fired for wanting to work from home, because she insisted on office-only despite company policy) in order to avoid the comments becoming a work-from-home discussion.

          But your point on the insecurity makes a lot of sense and helps me understand why someone like Rachel would be this bugged by it.

      2. Parenthesis Guy*

        The LW wrote: “I probably would have put her on a PIP, and I would have taken over co-managing her team until I was sure she would not do something like this again. But this was Rachel’s first infraction in her entire time working here. HR interviewed the rest of her staff and all of them spoke positively about her.”

        The OP believes that Rachel is liked by most of her reports, usually does good work and has made only one mistake. The OP seems to think this was a big mistake, due to the willingness to put Rachel on a PIP, but doesn’t want to get rid of one of their employees that did good work aside from this terrible decision.

        To be clear, I probably would have fired Rachel. It appears that Manuel and Rachel had a discussion where Rachel didn’t show remorse for her decision.

        It would also help me to know more about that discussion between Manuel and Rachel, whether Jason was considered a good employee and more about the relationship between Rachel and Jason. Also what Rachel said was the reason why Jason was written up. I don’t think that would change my opinion, but it would give me more comfort that I understand.

      3. Irish Teacher*

        I can think of a few possible scenarios, though most are into the realm of AMA fanfiction, as I have no reason to assume any of them is the reality. It’s possible she might be thinking about the environment – “we need to get cars off the road, pollution went down during covid, so it’s unethical to travel to work if you don’t need to!” or she might be concerned about continuing covid spread, though in either case, one person’s choice is going to make so little difference that her response would seem somewhat fanatical if that were the case.

        She might be just really hung up on “proving” how great WFH is and might feel that if anybody chooses to go back, it will allow employers to argue “well, some people prefer to be in the office.

        Actually, people are talking about letters this reminds them of and Rachel’s behaviour reminds me a little of the intern who disabled a coworker’s caps lock, to “teach” them how much better it would be to use shift when typing. It could be something like that.

        But really, it’s hard to imagine a reason that isn’t totally bizarre. The most reasonable one is that she fears she will have to go in in order to manage him or something.

      4. Happy*

        I think it’s because Rachel is dishonest and lying about other things as well, and if her reports are in the office, it’s more likely that something comes up in conversation and her deceits are found out.

  15. Robert in SF*

    This is an example of how being honest (blunt?) and forthright in your exit interview does help those who remain at the company.
    Now, I didn’t catch how much time there was between the right up, the annual review, and the exit interview. Perhaps it would have been better for the employee to bring up the write-up to their grand boss or HR, promptly after the write up occurred. That could have prevented the motivation for the person to leave. Maybe not.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      Thank you for calling that out. This site can be pretty anti-exit interview but depending on your company and what you have to say, it’s worth it.

      1. NotAnotherManager!*

        I have gotten a lot of really helpful info from exit interviews (and before exit interviews, but there are people who do not feel comfortable sharing anything negative until they’re headed out the door, so at least we’re hearing it at some point). It’s very easy to implement them poorly or to have people who shouldn’t be doing them doing them, but our HR has seemed to hit the sweet sport with ours and we do act on them, when appropriate.

  16. BBB*

    I wonder if op feeling like their toes got stepped on by Manny is coloring their perception of the situation a bit?
    Rachel falsified documents to write up an employee without cause which ultimately pushed them out the door. those are really serious things that are absolutely fireable even if it’s a “first offense”. and I guarantee you, if Rachel is willing to go that far, it’s not her first offense, it’s just the first time you all found out.

    1. JelloStapler*

      Or it is her first offense and if you don’t call her out, more will follow because she “got away with it”.

  17. SereneScientist*

    LW, it feels like you’re missing the forest for the trees here a bit. As Allison points out, there *is* a different discussion to be had if Manny steps in to directly manage your division/team more often than is needed. But in this particular instance, your former employee behaved very unethically and it resulted in another employee deciding to leave. The fact that you’re more hung up on your boss stepping in to address this rather than the magnitude of the problem itself is…concerning.

  18. I'm fabulous!*

    I can understand why you felt left out of how this was handled but Rachel’s action was cause for immediate dismissal.

  19. Lights*

    Sounds like you’re more upset about the fact Manny fired her without consulting you than about the actual fireable offence that you should have identified as fireable in the first place.

  20. Sara without an H*

    Hi, LW — Sorry, but I have to side with Alison on this one: what Rachel did was so over the top that giving her another chance would make no sense.

    What would you expect a PIP to accomplish in Rachel’s case? How would you have worded it? “In the next 30 days, I expect to see substantial, consistent improvement in the following areas: 1) Not penalizing employees in violation of clearly-articulated company policy; 2) Not falsifying documents; 3) Not lying.” This would be a little hard to benchmark, I think.

    Now, as to how Manny handled the firing, yes, ideally he would have talked with you first. My suggestion would be to schedule a 1:1 with him and try to get a better sense of his thinking on what happened. There may be other issues where you and he are not in sync, and you need to know what those are.

    1. Observer*

      Well, Manny has already had some conversation with the LW. At this point, for the OP to continue to claim that they don’t understand really puts their judgement in question.

      Manny actually asked Rachel why she did this, I guess to give her a chance to come back with extenuating circumstance. Yet, somehow this is not enough for the LW. What more do they need to know than that Rachel broke explicit company policy over personal preference, penalized a good employee for it, lied to both the company and the employee, FALSIFIED documents, and the gave an excuse that would make the company’s legal department flip out (based on his family status and possibly gender)?

  21. Littorally*

    Oh man.

    Okay, OP, I see where you’re coming from with the “first infraction” thing, but first infraction or no, falsifying paperwork is pants-shittingly serious stuff. Companies go to bat and most importantly go to court based on what is in company books & records.

    Look. If the problem was just that Rachel disciplined Jason based on his desire to work from the office instead of from home, that would be something where some serious coaching, remedial management training, etc would be appropriate. She cannot punish her people for something that the company says is permitted and encouraged, but that is the kind of thing that management training could easily address.

    Covering up her decision to discipline an employee for something explicitly permitted by falsifying the records the company relies on is a major, do-not-pass-go kind of problem. That says that her fundamental ethics are bad, and I don’t think coaching or remedial training can fix that. That is something that speaks to what kind of a person she is. You cannot trust her. End of story.

    1. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      “ If the problem was just that Rachel disciplined Jason based on his desire to work from the office instead of from home, that would be something where some serious coaching, remedial management training, etc would be appropriate. She cannot punish her people for something that the company says is permitted and encouraged, but that is the kind of thing that management training could easily address.”

      Yes. Exactly!!

    2. The Person from the Resume*

      You can also say it’s three infractions.
      1) Writing someone up for following policy.
      2) Lieing about it verbally to her managers.
      3) Falisifying documents to support her lie to managers.

    3. Some words*

      Let’s not forget the negative impact on his performance appraisal, so this actually impacts his income.

      So many factors showing how this was a very big deal. The “first infraction” factor is a moot point at this level of wrongdoing.

    4. sequined histories*

      Exactly. Her behavior calls her character into question rather her competence. And when it comes to the character of a person, the willingness to abuse her power over a subordinate is one of the worst possible character flaws a manager could have.

    5. Middle of HR*

      I wondered if LW is partially in disagreement because LW thinks you shouldn’t terminate folks on the spot – but that’s just not the case when there’s an ethics violation. IDK if this company has a formal ethics policy, but most would consider falsifying company documents a violation which warrants immediate termination (and yes, LW, reviews and write ups are formal business documents subject to subpoena in the case of an investigation).

  22. Wordnerd*

    He says she had no excuse and her statement that work from home was perfect for someone like Jason (because he is single, lives alone, and has no parenting/caregiving duties) was out of line.

    Obviously, everything Rachel said and did was out of line, and there’s no need for any kind of discussion about why a person would make their choice in/out of the office, but this seems *so especially* backwards to me. In my understanding, single/living alone folks were some of those hit hardest by the isolation aspects of working from home. Rachel is clearly on her own planet here.

      1. SereneScientist*

        This is a great point, Wordnerd. It’s great that more industries are adapting to remote work because it is just the reality of our world now, and more flexibilty usually means happier people. But that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s what everyone wants or needs and having such an inflexible attitude like Rachel did is not gonna work, especially in a manager.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      Yep. Absolutely. She is so caught up in this idea of WFH as the “gold standard” she’s not thinking critically.

      Which isn’t really, I think, the point of the letter. But it’s really confusing.

    2. Dust Bunny*

      Single person here.

      Apart from not having a commute, I hate working from home. I hate having to give up part of my (limited, because single income) living space to my job, and I like having a hard boundary between home and work.

      Also, it’s none of Rachel’s business.

      1. SereneScientist*

        This is also a good point: not every person has an ideal or even workable WFH environment in their house/apt/what-have-you.

        1. GrooveBat*

          Or, simply, *not everyone likes it.* Full stop. Nothing to do with setup or environment; I have plenty of room in my house for a home office and I utterly HATE working from home.

          1. thatoneoverthere*

            During the panorama I had a job that had to be done on site. There was no choice. My husband hated working from home. He saw no one for 8+ hours a day and is an extreme extrovert. He thrives off intrapersonal relationships in the office. He was so lonely and it really took a toll on his mental health. He was a very happy go lucky guy (think Phil Dunphy Modern Family fans) and turned into a shell of his former self. It was awful.

      2. Littorally*

        Agreed, from another live-aloner.

        During the height of the pandemic, I volunteered for my office’s skeleton staff, because I knew going weeks or months without any human contact would drive me insane post-haste. Someone had to do it, it might as well be me — I wanted to be there, did not have kids to worry about, did not have anyone I had to fear bringing covid home to. As far as I’m concerned, it made me the perfect choice.

        1. The Eye of Argon*

          I was in much the same boat (single, lives alone, no kids or other people to worry about) and I was actually happy that I’m considered an essential worker and had to go in to work every day. I did far too much sitting and moping and fretting during the quarantine the way it was. Doing it 24/7 would have driven me bananapants.

          Personally, I need that change in venue in order to get myself into “work mode.” At home, that’s where my comfy couch and the TV and food and hobby stuff and the cats are. At least at the office there’s nothing more interesting to do, so I might as well get some work done.

      3. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

        As some who you’d have to pry WFH from my cold dead hands, if I was single and lived alone I’d absolutely need some kind of hybrid schedule.

        Rachel should have appreciated that she works for a company that let people do what worked for them, and not mandated them either way.

      4. GrooveBat*

        I’m with you. I know it’s a little off topic here, but I find it supremely annoying when people take the “WFH is preferable” position and assume it is the default opinion of everyone on the planet.

      5. DisgruntledPelican*

        Yep. I enjoy working from home, but as a single person in a small apartment I have had to make my peace with the fact that my home is now seriously more cluttered than it was before I was working from home.

        1. Czhorat*

          True. It might be against a corporate policy and, even if it isn’t opening the company up to legal issues, is morally wrong.

        2. laser99*

          I am embarrassed to ask this, but I don’t know how to follow any responses to comments I have made?

          1. Czhorat*

            You can subscribe to comments via rss. There used to be a checkbox to get emails on new comments, but that seems to be gone.

            If I want to follow up on mine, I just refresh the page and search my name.

  23. Falling Diphthong*

    This reminds me of the letter “my employee stole a jacket on camera, but I think the victim is trying to frame her for using the credit card in the pocket because the employee is otherwise an honest and upstanding person who would not lie or steal.” That an offense can look so obvious on paper, and as soon as you have a warm relationship with the miscreant it colors everything.

    I’ve also seen a case in comments on an advice column (not this one), where the regulars were tearing apart the unethical behavior of the LW until someone said “LW is Beloved Regular Commenter.” And then suddenly her actions were deemed sympathetic and understandable and the other party should have had their own look out.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      ” That an offense can look so obvious on paper, and as soon as you have a warm relationship with the miscreant it colors everything.”

      It feels like that has to be the case here.

        1. Observer*

          We’re never going to see one. That LW got blasted. With good reason, but it’s pretty unusual for those LW’s to come back.

          1. DyneinWalking*

            I have to say though, I have mad respect for the LW’s who came back with an update and* actually took (some) of the advice to heart. Knowing you got blasted before, understanding the reason for that and yet being willing to potentially face that backlash again … that takes some serious growth and maturity.

            *The ones who didn’t and basically just came back to tell everyone how justified they were and how wrong Alison’s reasonable advice was are excluded; those merely underlined their self-centeredness.

      1. DisgruntledPelican*

        They don’t even need to be actual friends for OP to have this kind of bias towards Rachel.

    2. Siege*

      I immediately thought of that letter too. If that’s the case here, LW, it sucks that your friend turned out not to be who you thought, and you have my sympathy, but at the same time, she isn’t who you thought and you need to get some clear-eyed perspective on why what she did is uncoachable.

    3. WantonSeedStitch*

      This is a kind of cognitive bias that we discussed in an HR seminar on unconscious bias in the workplace: if you form a strong opinion of someone, positive or negative, it’s hard to accept evidence that runs contrary to that bias even if it’s solid.

  24. Madame X*

    Rachel’s actions are reprehensible. She punished an employee for doing some thing he was allowed to do, which was to work on site. Additionally, she falsified documents to misrepresent why she was wrote him up. You are downplaying the far-reaching consequences of Rachel’s actions. She caused undue stress to an employee for no justifiable reason. Writing him up negatively affected his annual review which ultimately resulted in him quitting the company. What she did completely eroded any trust that anyone at your company should have in her. This wasn’t just an error in judgment. It was malfeasance. Firing her is the appropriate consequence for Rachel’s bad behavior and hopefully it’s a wake up call for her to change her ways. At the very least, she’s no longer in a position where she can manage people.

    1. Petty Betty*

      At my company, the annual review is collectively discussed with leadership levels to determine merit bonuses. If any leaders did read the write-up, her story was the view they would have of the employee. It could seriously damage his professional standing at the company, including potential for new work, increased responsibilities, and future promotion because Rachel lied about his conduct. Additionally, in writing a false negative review, Rachel might have impacted his financial situation and potential bonus allotment.

      The ripple effect for what Rachel did is untold.

  25. JustMyImagination*

    She made a good employee quit, she lied to you, she lied to HR and she falsified documents. Not to mention, the write up effected his review and likely the raise he was eligible for. Even if you had put her on a PIP, how could you ever trust anything she says when she was so methodical about lying and the cover up in the first place?

    1. Escapee from Corporate Management*

      Not to pile on, but OP, you should be concerned about YOUR performance here. Missing an ethical violation of this level never looks good for a manager. YOU may be at risk of being put on a PIP for being so distant from your second-level direct reports so that (a) you did not know this was going on and (b) you created a situation where they do not feel comfortable reporting damaging ethical lapses to you.

      Manny may not have included you because he thinks he needed to take care of this due to your own poor performance.

  26. Clefairy*

    I’m concerned at OP’s view of ethics in the workplace if this didn’t immediately seem to be a huge enough breach to warrant termination. I do wonder- OP, are you upset that your direct report got terminated because you don’t think what they did was flagrant enough to warrant it, or are you upset that your manager took away some of your control by doing this without consulting you? I feel like you may think it’s the first, but it may actually be the second. I’d take a big step back and really try to examine this scenario before you talk to your manager about it. I feel like it’s way more valid to say “Hey manager, I totally agree that termination was the way to go, but I felt blindsided that this occurred without my input. Could we loop me in sooner if something like this happens with someone I directly manage” than “Hey manage- I don’t agree with the [completely valid, normal] reason my direct report was terminated”

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      Me too. I wonder if Manny stepped in not only because it was the obvious and appropriate thing to do, but because he had other concerns about OP’s management.

      1. Lils*

        Eldritch, I totally agree with you. I think Manny’s decision to fire Rachel is a sign that Manny has other concerns about OPs judgement or management skills. If Manny felt they could trust OP to take the correct action and fire Rachel, Manny wouldn’t have had to step in first.

        1. Akcipitrokulo*

          Or HR reported directly to Manny, and he went “What? Seriously? She’s fired!” – either assuming OP was already looped in, or making small error of not looping in, assuming OF COURSE her direct manager would agree.

          1. goducks*

            As HR, I’d have skipped the direct manager too, and first gone to the grandboss because there would be a chance the LW was in the know and involved. Plus, this is a really serious breech, with potentially broad consequences (what else did she falsify???), so I’d work downward in the management chain, not upward. Especially if the grandboss is senior/exec management and the LW is not. I’d also be doing some investigating of the LW (and potentially members of the HR team, depending on how the disciplinary process works at the company) to ensure that they weren’t an accomplice to this– or simply derelict in their duties if there were multiple cases of falsified documents or other serious breeches.

            1. Eldritch Office Worker*

              I agree. If, as HR, I’m the one who got wind of this, it would go straight to the top of the chain and the manager would be informed, not consulted. Your point about an investigation is interesting – I feel like OP would know if that was going on but maybe not? Maybe OP is being investigated in some way and therefore out of the loop.

              1. goducks*

                It’s pretty common for the target of an investigation to be one of the last to know, so, it’s possible.

      2. Jonaessa*

        I’m starting to think OP may be concerned that Manny stepping in means he was/is concerned about OP’s management. I’m trying really hard to put myself in OP’s shoes to understand why they don’t think it’s a fireable offense, and I’m just coming up empty. So maybe OP thinks Manny stepped in because he felt OP could not handle the situation. If I were the OP, I would start thinking, “He didn’t let me handle the situation which means he doesn’t trust my judgment.” It would probably make me a little nervous. (I would have fired Rachel, though.)

    2. Meep*

      I feel like OP needs to look at how they would handle it if Rachel was caught embezzling money from the company because by writing up Jason for such an asinine reason and hurting his bonus/promotion, she committed wage theft.

      1. Barbarella*

        Denying raises and promotions, even under false pretenses, does not constitute wage theft, and Jason would not have a legal case.

    3. Frustrated Front Desk*

      I think that’s the root of the issue. Not, “I would have handled this differently,” but, “This should have been mine to handle.”

  27. Not A Manager*

    I’d like the LW to make a clear case why this isn’t a firing offense. I think that trying to write a paragraph that starts with “my direct report contravened company policy based on her own preferences, trod very close to risking a discrimination complaint, wrote up an employee who was in complete compliance, forged a document, and lied to superiors…” and ends with “…and therefore she should maybe be put on a PIP but definitely not fired,” is going to be really hard.

    1. NotAnotherManager!*

      Same. I want to hear the case for Rachel keeping her job because everything I’m reading is fireable as an individual incident and a total WTF when taken together.

  28. D-wight*

    I really hope that HR, Manny, and hopefully the OP contacted Jason to let him to apologize profusely on behalf of the company, and to let him know they would remove the write up from his file, and that they’d offer an extremely positive reference for when he needs it.

    1. Rachel 2: Electric Boogaloo*

      Exactly. Heck, I’d be half tempted to offer him Rachel’s job if he wanted it.

  29. Looper*

    You need to start focusing way more on the people your managers are overseeing because I can’t fathom how you imagined Rachel’s team was going to react to having to continue working under her. She showed such an astounding lack of honesty or maturity here that I don’t believe there have been no other problems. I think you just aren’t aware of them. If she is willing to go this big on a lie, she has likely lied about many smaller things in the past.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      “I can’t fathom how you imagined Rachel’s team was going to react to having to continue working under her.”

      I didn’t even get that far down the thought experiment – but yeah. Excellent point.

      1. JelloStapler*

        But LW also implied “But all her other employees said great things about her, so clearly she is not an issue- I am stumped!!”

          1. Fishsticks*

            Or Jason was the “scapegoat” and she was fine with other employees but has some deep unreasonable loathing of him and therefore was literally, genuinely literally, making shit up to try to drive him out. I’ve seen it before, albeit not to this ridiculous extreme.

        1. Looper*

          With the employee interviews, I assume these were either done at the beginning of the investigation, or LW is referring to other, unrelated check ins. In both cases, OF COURSE they are giving positive feedback: their manager is a manipulative, punitive liar who will falsify documents to make their work lives worse. I would want LW to interview these employees AFTER they knew Rachel was no longer going to be their manager.

        2. DisgruntledPelican*

          True, but there’s no indication the rest of the team know about Rachel’s fraudulent activity. I have worked with people who I would have said I had a great relationship with who then turned around and did something they absolutely deserved to be fired over. People who are devious are often good at hiding it from everyone else.

    2. Pierrot*

      Really great point.

      My reacrion is that LW should also make herself more available to her direct reports’ employees so that they feel more comfortable bringing serious concerns to her. Obviously you don’t want people constantly going over their manager’s head or bringing petty complaints to their grand-boss, but it’s concerning that Andrew got this absurd write up and didn’t think “I should raise this with HR or Rachel’s manager.” In a healthy workplace, if your manager penalized you for something that your employer expressly permitted, you would be able to ask your grand-boss or HR for clarification.

  30. Help Desk Peon*

    How long would you have to spend co-managing Rachel to be sure she’d never pull such an asinine stunt again? Until she quit the company, basically. What she did was so shady, I don’t think she could ever rebuild trust. If you’re going to co-manage her team and sit in on every important conversation she ever has, then what’s the point of keeping her on?

  31. Czhorat*

    In addition to everything else, the write-up affected the employee’s annual review; in many organizations that’s tied to raises and promotions. So this could very easily have cost Manny both money and career advancement.

    There are no words for how egregious a breach of trust this is; a PIP is to give a last chance to demonstrate that they’ve learned the right behavior. If a manager is slow to submit paperwork or makes careless mistakes you can put them on a PIP to give them a chance to fix it before you get rid of them. This is such an obvious ethical failing that any reasonable person should know that it was the wrong thing to do. No employee should need coaching to be told that records – especially disciplinary records – need to be accurate.

      1. Czhorat*

        I did mean Jason, and yes.

        Falsifying a disciplinary write-up is a firable offence on its own; it’s worse that there is very much a victim who almost certainly suffered real harm.

  32. Amanda*

    How amazing that the fired employee had evidence of his review being mis handled! This is the absolute best type of employee to have – one who comes with documented evidence and is willing to voice it!

  33. Peanut Hamper*

    You put someone on a PIP when they make mistakes. Mistakes are coachable.

    Rachel deliberately falsified documentation, resulting in the loss of a presumably good employee. She lied. This is not coachable. She has no ethics, and does not deserve to manage other people.

    (And I’d bet good money that this is not the first time she’s done this. It’s just the first time she’s been caught.)

    1. Meep*

      Not to mention she stole money from that employee. Jason could go after the company for wage theft, honestly.

        1. Grammar Penguin*

          IANAL but I think he does. She subjected him to all of this, falsely accusing him, falsifying his evaluation, likely denying him a raise, and ultimately driving him out of the company all because she disagreed with his preference for working in-office. She thought he should prefer wfh because he’s single.

          So, she defamed him, denied him a promised benefit (choice of working from home or in office), and eventually drove him out of the company, all on the basis of his marital status.

          If Jason decides to sue, the company’s only defense will be that they fired her immediately the moment they found out about it.

          LW doesn’t get that. The company HAD to fire her immediately. They had no choice. To keep her on at all would make the company complicit, and therefore liable, for illegal discrimination.

          And that’s before we get into potential liability landmines that lie beneath the surface of everything Rachel ever wrote about any of her reports.

          1. Observer*

            If Jason decides to sue, the company’s only defense will be that they fired her immediately the moment they found out about it.

            Not really or necessarily.

            Having said that, this IS relevant because if a different case comes up where there is a clear case of illegal behavior the company would want to be able to point to the fact that they have a process for handling stuff like that. But, in order for the court to take that seriously, that process needs to have teeth. If people are going to go to court with “Well we saw Jason being unfairly pushed out of our company, courts take that VERY seriously. But if the company can say “True but we fired the manager who did this as SOON as we found out”, that changes everything.

      1. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

        I’m curious why you think there’s a wage theft claim here? Don’t get me wrong, the behavior was reprehensible, I just don’t see it qualifying as wage theft, which is stuff like working off the clock, not getting breaks and not getting paid overtime. Without a protected class, it’s hard to sue for much, although that varies by state.

        1. Grammar Penguin*

          Marital status is a protected class and it seems this was all driven by her judgement of what Jason should desire as a single person.

      2. Observer*

        Jason could go after the company for wage theft, honestly.

        Nope. Given what we know, it could be that Jason would have a discrimination case, but it could also be that he doesn’t.

        What he does NOT have is a wage theft claim. There is no evidence that he was not paid whatever salary he was promised. As unfair as denying him a raise would be, there is no claim of theft when you simply don’t give someone a raise.

  34. Help Desk Peon*

    Also, if she was able to falsify a review like that, you as an org need to review your process AND review past reviews of people under her, both positive and negative. How do you know she’s not falsifying them in the opposite direction? Maybe there’s a nefarious reason the rest of her team loves her so much.

    1. NotAnotherManager!*

      Yeah, if I want to write someone up formally, HR has to be involved in that. I can draft the actual write up, but it’s reviewed by the head of HR, and the head of HR sends the actual documentation to the employee and the file after we meet with the employee to review the information and discuss what support they need to bring their performance to standard.

  35. Meep*

    OP, Rachel messed with Jason’s livelihood. She literally stole money from him because she disliked that he preferred working in the office. Heck, he might have grounds to sue your company to recuperate those costs. It may be a lack of judgment, but it is a pretty erroneous one. Rather than using Allison’s example of punching a client in the face, think about how you would handle it if Rachel was embezzling from the company. Are you saying that is something that should be punished with a PIP or would you want her fired right away? The fact of the matter is Rachel deserves to be fired for wage theft.

      1. sleepy duck*

        IANAL so I don’t know about the feasibility of suing, however:

        Rachel was not happy with his decision to return to the office. He got written up for it, which affected his annual review.

        Reading between the lines, it might be that the false write up affected Jason’s career within the company, including the chances for promotion or a raise.

    1. Grammar Penguin*

      That’s not what wage theft is. She didn’t actually take money from him nor promise him money and not pay nor violate wage and hour laws. She denied him the opportunity to earn a higher wage by defaming him in the company’s record. That’s a tort, for sure, but it isn’t wage theft specifically.

      I think Jason’s unlikely to sue because the company did exactly what it should do when it uncovers something like this: fire the offender immediately.

  36. Damn it, Hardison!*

    Unless I missed something, Rachel penalized Jason for something that had absolutely no impact on her (she wasn’t required to go into the office if he did). She simply didn’t like the decision he made – on that had no negative consequences for anyone – and penalized him for it. That is such an overstep on her part that if I was her manager I don’t think I could trust her judgment on other matters either.

    1. Pam Adams*

      I’m wondering if Rachel realized that having employees in-office while she wasn’t would uncover something else she was up to- whether falsifying her own work records or perhaps stealing from the company.

      1. JelloStapler*

        Don’t financial institutions enforce vacation or leave at the last minute in order to check for embezzlement and shady dealings in people’s absence?

      2. Meep*

        Maybe it is just my experience (which is highly unusual), but my former manager wrote up false write-ups (and didn’t even tell us) for the most asinine reasons. We ended up wrongfully terminating a transwoman. Her and her coworker heard that she released a massive bug (that she didn’t) as the reason for her termination. Rachal told her boss that it was because the girl hadn’t done any work in three months. The reality? The woman told Rachel that she was transitioning to take time off and she got fired the week she was to transition. My Rachel also fired someone for having Chron’s disease and another for being non-binary (who she kept misgendering). For me, I got written up for buying a house… I can believe it is really just some stupid, petty reason, because I have seen how absolutely crazy some people are.

  37. Llama Llama*

    I haaaaaate firing people. I want to give people as many chances as possible but no Rachel needed to be fired. She made up a reason to write someone up. Lied about the reason. She caused this guy not to get a bonus for lies! She caused this guy to quit!

    1. higheredadmin*

      I’m wondering if LW is dealing with this. It is difficult to fire people, and LW might have made it this far in her career without ever doing so. This need to give people the benefit of the doubt and “coach” can go to far, and as many have said coaching people on ethics is a bit too much. LW, remind yourself that this is the result of Rachel’s choices that she made herself, not something you/Manny are “doing” to her. She made her decisions, got caught, and now has to deal with the consequences.

  38. Helen J*

    I disagree with the OP and agree with everyone who says this was an immediate firing offense. She falsified documentation and caused him to receive a downgraded review because she believed he should work from home. If were one of her direct reports, I would not be able to trust her and would also leave ASAP.

  39. Anecdata*

    If this is what really happened (Rachel put a fake write up in an employee’s file to hide that they were penalizing them for… uh, following a company policy about choosing your own work location preference?!?), this is absolutely immediate firing territory; you cannot have this person on staff and much less in any kind of leadership role.

    But it was unclear to me from the letter if the division manager did any verification — In a situation like this, I would at least want to go to Rachel and say “this is what I see; can you explain…” and see if she has a different story. (Like in this situation, if she says the write-up Jason has is a complete fabrication on his part; she never told him he should work from home because of his personal living situation, etc). In which case, you’ll need to do more digging as you have two incompatible stories, but I would side-eye a senior leader who fired Rachel on a single employee’s report, without asking her about it

    1. Marz*

      It seemed to me Manny DID ask her about it, at least that was what I got from this: “He says she had no excuse and her statement that work from home was perfect for someone like Jason (because he is single, lives alone, and has no parenting/caregiving duties) was out of line”. Because it doesn’t sound like something she put in the write-up – possible Jason reported it, but at the very least “she had no excuse” sounds like they asked or there was an opportunity for her to come forward with an excuse.

      Also, HR interviewed the rest of her staff and apparently verified that they had a different copy of the write-up then Jason did…I think at the very least we can say that this company did a very fair amount of due diligence.

    2. Anonforhere*

      No? Rachel would say the same thing either way– if the accustation were true, she’d lie about it. You would need to look for *material* evidence, and I’m assuming there was some.

  40. Lady CFO*

    I gasped out loud when I read OP wouldn’t have fired Rachel and “may have” put her on a PIP. This response makes me wonder how effective a manager OP truly is. Gosh, this behavior of Rachel and reaction of OP are just so egregious, I’m at a loss for words.

  41. JelloStapler*

    Nope, her lesson is that she gets fired for that kind of bulls*t.

    Seriously? LYING about an employee because she didn’t like a CHOICE he made that was very clearly promoted by the company as that- a CHOICE. It impacted his future at the company and she lied to HR because she knew what she did was wrong- NO.

  42. NYWeasel*

    OP, it might help if you think about the fact that a PIP is generally used to shield a company legally from accusations that they fired an employee without cause. In this case, the legal exposure Rachel opened the company to has the potential to be far more costly to the company than any case she might bring about being let go unfairly, hence firing her immediately.

    And yes, some employees do successfully get back on track after a PIP and aren’t fired, but in this case, what metric would you even use to ensure that Rachel wasn’t lying to you about what she says to employees? Especially without you having to monitor her to an unhealthy degree? You know she’s unafraid of lying, so you wouldn’t be able to trust her word.

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      a PIP is generally used to shield a company legally from accusations that they fired an employee without cause. In this case, the legal exposure Rachel opened the company to has the potential to be far more costly to the company than any case she might bring about being let go unfairly

      This is a good point! Rachel’s action really do open up the company to some liability issues.

  43. Akcipitrokulo*

    Yeah. Would have been nice for Manny to loop you in – but option would be “do you want to tell her or do you want me to?” not “will she be fired?”.

    Because yes.

    She 100% needs fired.


  44. I should really pick a name*

    I would not have fired her. I would have made sure she knew that she was out of line

    She knew.
    If she didn’t know it was out of line, she wouldn’t have made a fake write-up to go on file.

    1. Help Desk Peon*

      EXACTLY. And how can they trust any other write ups she may have done? Or employee awards? Or raises?

  45. Doug Stewart*

    One detail I noticed, if all the employees in a group WFH, then their manager didn’t have to come in either.
    Jason wanted to work in the office, so that meant Rachel had to spend some time in the office too most likely.

    1. I should really pick a name*

      I think you may have misread that:

      managers didn’t have to go in if they had any staff on site

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      The letter says this was not the case.

      And in this case, it wouldn’t make sense–his “remote office” can be the physical office in the warehouse and the rest of the team can have remote offices in their homes, and whether one person is physically in the HQ and another physically in their sister’s garage doesn’t matter.

    3. FD*

      I struggled to parse that too, it’s phrased a little oddly. The line is:

      An employee did not have to be in the office because their manager was, and managers didn’t have to go in if they had any staff on site.

      I believe that means:

      1) Even if a manager chose to work from the office, the employee could still chose to work from home
      2) Even if an employee chose to work from the office, the manager could still choose to work from home

      1. Hlao-roo*

        Yes, I parsed it the same way: any one person’s choice to work from home or the office is independent of any other person’s choice (including managers/employees).

    4. Barbarella*

      Hm, I didn’t read it that way:

      managers didn’t have to go in if they had any staff on site.

      That reads to me like a manager can still wfh (“didn’t have to do in”) even if they have staff on site.

  46. EMP*

    Joining in the chorus of Rachel needed to be immediately fired, but I’m also confused by OP’s responsibility in all this. If OP is Rachel’s manager, does that mean she wrote up a grand-report for a disciplinary action that never happened and OP…didn’t notice? I get that in some structures you really don’t interact with your report’s reports much but I’m sus that OP is this snubbed by Rachel being fired by their boss and yet has seemingly no concern that they didn’t notice a discrepancy between reality and whatever Jason was written up for.

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      Rachel put a false document in the employee’s file, which is the one that OP saw.

      Chances are that when this came out in the exit interview (at which OP and HR were present) HR immediately went to Manny afterward. It is probably a chain-of-command thing.

      1. EMP*

        I get that, but since the write up was false, I assume it was for something Jason didn’t actually do. I’m trying to think of what he could be formally written up for a fake infraction where no one could notice it did not match his actual behavior. But maybe with much of the team remote, it was something OP couldn’t verify? It just seems like in addition to Rachel being completely unethical, OP may have missed something fishy in what was shown to them.

  47. The Eye of Argon*

    LW, think about this from an employee’s perspective. Let’s say you got your way and Rachel wasn’t fired.

    Your manager falsified an employee writeup for Jason, who’s a good guy and does good work. It comes out in the wash that she did it for some petty bullpoop reason and no surprise that he quit over it.

    What other petty stuff is she just waiting to screw me and her other direct reports over with? Do I stress myself out watching every move she makes, wondering if I’m next? Will I get blindsided by losing the bonus I worked so hard for? How can I possibly trust upper management not only for letting Rachel remain employed – but still as a MANAGER??

    Screw that, I’m finding another job right yesterday.

    Firing Rachel was the only possible solution here, both to punish her for what she did and to reassure the rest of your employees that upper management doesn’t suck.

    1. Barbarella*

      “Screw that, I’m finding another job right yesterday.”

      I was in a similar situation to Jason, although several orders of magnitude less extreme. One of the people involved was promoted to manager shortly after, and the two people who were managers had no consequences. Yep, I looked for a new job.

      That was three years ago, and when I think about it, I still shake my head that the one person was promoted. She was the HR rep, and she literally said to me she didn’t have to follow company issued guidelines bc they were just guidelines. Yep.

  48. BL73*

    Holy carp, LW. You don’t PIP someone who falsified documentation THAT AFFECTS THEIR DIRECT REPORT. I’m shocked that you can’t see this. Why would anyone trust her again? I’m gobsmacked.

  49. Red5*

    Honestly, unless Manny and/or HR are also going back through every formal documentation Rachel ever submitted (at least for employees who are still current) to verify there aren’t MORE fabricated files, I’d say they’re still UNDERreacting. Seriously, how can you know for sure this is the first time Rachel has ever done something like this? Her integrity and reputation are completely gone and unrecoverable at this point. How could a PIP possibly correct this?

    1. Grammar Penguin*

      Yes indeed. Cleaning up this mess means upper managers personally reviewing everything she’s ever written about her subordinates, comparing it to whatever data-based metrics they may have, and interview all of them. And in those interviews, be transparent about what happened: their previous manager was just fired for falsifying a performance review and we need to verify everything she wrote about you. This is an investigation for damage control purposes. It could involve financial records. There May Be Lawyers.

      That’s costly if Jason was really the only one she’s mistreated. What are the odds of that?

    2. Me*

      I interacted with a chronic liar for several years. She was very good at it, and people thought she was great. Several direct reports on the way out the door told people she was a liar and throwing them under the bus for her mistakes, but no one believed them. Then I started figuring it out, after I caught her red-handed lying to me twice and telling a direct report to lie to me as well. I reported it to her supervisor, with documentation. Nothing happened to her, and somehow people thought I was making it up, even though I had written documentation… She eventually left on her own for a better job.

      The sad part is that I have all these negative impressions about current and past workers, and I have no idea whether or not they are based on anything real. She was so good at lying and did it for so many years that I’m not really aware of whether my impressions are accurate and based on objective things that I have personal knowledge of, or whether they are mostly based on a liar whispering in my ear for so long.

      And of course, after I formally reported her, she started lying to my co-workers about me. I found out about one example from a co-worker who asked me if what she heard was true. But I wonder how many other people heard things and didn’t come up to me about it…

  50. Falling Diphthong*

    HR interviewed the rest of her staff and all of them spoke positively about her.
    OP, you should really think about why you assume all these people felt that they could be open and honest with you. Especially in light of your desire to respond to this by telling Rachel firmly it was bad, but otherwise she’s still in charge of writing these people up.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      There’s something so naive about OP’s analysis of the situation. And I don’t say that to be mean, I just wonder how experienced OP is and whether or not they’ve had to deal with challenging situations before. I want this to be a learning moment and not a pile on, but I’m struggling to ascertain what level of understanding about management roles and responsibilities the OP is working with.

      1. AngryOctopus*

        Yeah, I think OP is underthinking this particular aspect of it. If I knew a colleague had left over a write-up he was given that was unjustified, and then my manager’s manager came to me to ask how I liked the manager, I would be very wary of saying anything other than “She’s been good to work for”. I may still have to work for this person! Especially if it seems that you are disinclined to do anything substantial about the falsified documents. People on Rachel’s team weren’t willing to come forward because they didn’t see you making moves to actually hold her accountable. They needed to be able to say “Oh, I’m so sorry you’re on a PIP, I told [your manager] that you were so nice to work for!” because they don’t want to be next in her crosshairs.

        1. AngryOctopus*

          Oh I missed that it was HR that interviewed them? But the timeline is unclear so I feel that the team was maybe still trying to protect themselves from Rachel driven consequence. Regardless, OP needs to do some introspection about why she feels that a PIP (maybe?) was the right solution instead of firing. A reset is in order here for her mindset.

  51. Crazy Horse*

    OP should be glad Jason hasn’t hired an employment attorney to deal with this situation. I’m also wondering how Jason will explain this bizarre incident on future job interviews.

    1. The Person from the Resume*

      You are not the only person who suggests that Jason can take legal action. What legal action are you looking for? What was illegal?

      It’s pretty clear the problem was Jason wanted to work from the office which is not a protected class. He wasn’t even fired. Jason choose to quit because his boss was treating him poorly which is not illegal.

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        Well, it depends a little on what the write up that she actually filed said. It could fall under defamation or harassment.

      2. Peanut Hamper*

        He was written up for a violation that was not actually a violation.
        His documentation was falsified.
        This affected his annual review and presumably his pay and bonus.

        This isn’t about being a member of a protected class. This is about your company potentially violating labor laws.

        (To be fair, I’m not sure that Jason has much of a case, but the liability that Rachel’s actions have potentially opened up the company to is part of why this is an immediately fireable offense.)

        1. Grammar Penguin*

          Does the fact that she was apparently motivated by a preconception about how a single person should work open up the possibility of discrimination on the basis of marital status? Did she ever communicate to Jason that she was making him work from home, denying him a choice that the company specifically said was his to make, because of his being single and living alone?

      3. Falling Diphthong*

        Losing a bonus because of a false write-up for something that didn’t happen might be actionable.

        Or not, but I can see upper management, HR, and the in-house counsel being quite exercised about having to figure that out.

      4. cncx*

        Depending on the other stuff Rachel surely did, some jurisdictions have legal recourse for constructive dismissal, which would come into play for things like unemployment claims.

      5. Pierrot*

        Potentially defamation, but it might depend on the state. It doesn’t sound like he will sue (or that it would be worth the costs) and I don’t think Rachel or the company violated any labor laws or discrimination laws. I’m not sure how defamation works in the work place, but in general what Rachel did as an individual was defamatory. She falsified a report telling management that Jason did something that he did not do. She did this knowingly and intentionally. She knew it would harm his reputation. It’s not clear what she put on the false report, but it was serious enough that it had consequences- it cost him a raise.

        I don’t think Jason should sue but I think there could be some legal liability on Rachel’s end.

  52. BellyButton*

    I agree Manny should have spoken to LW first, and then used it as a coaching session for LW since LW didn’t think that Rachel should have been fired. What she did is so over the line and is grounds for immediate termination.

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      Manny probably didn’t go to LW because he was probably assuming that LW would also see this as an immediately fireable offense and wouldn’t have an issue with it.

      1. Escapee from Corporate Management*

        Or Manny saw OP as part of the problem and is now reviewing what comes next for OP. It makes sense in that case to exclude OP from the firing and subsequent investigation.

  53. MicroManagered*

    OP I think your judgment is way off here. I think your ego is bruised because you feel like Manny overruled you on a decision that you felt was yours to make. Your feelings are somewhat understandable, in the sense that it doesn’t feel good as a manager when you and your boss are not in alignment… but PLEASE try to see past that for a second and look at WHY he overruled you.

    I cannot wrap my head around why you’d think Rachel should have kept her job after what she did? Rachel wrote up a good employee for a stupid reason, which cost him a raise, and he understandably quit over it… and she tried to conceal it. It’s the concealment that is a problem here. If she had just wrote him up for a dumb reason, her job might have been salvageable, but she must have known she was doing something that was not above board here, otherwise why did she falsify the write up for his file? What else might she have been falsifying while she worked there?

    1. FD*

      What else might she have been falsifying while she worked there?

      This is a huge thing. If I was Manny, I would now be going through the VERY obnoxious process of auditing anything critical she had access to to make sure there aren’t other issues. Other employee records, but also any financials she had access to now need to be checked. If someone is known to have falsified paperwork once, you can’t just assume they haven’t done it anywhere else.

  54. Laura H*

    I thought the firing was the right decision merely on the grounds that Rachel actively made Jason feel “othered” for his choice to go into the office.

    The subsequent things are (crappy) bonuses that show the firing decision was a right one.

  55. Mads*

    Kind of the opposite happened to me.

    I managed a team of 6 and 2 of my female employees got in a fist fight in the middle of the office. I sent both home with instructions to not return until they heard from me. I called my manager to let him know the situation and asked if we could bring them in individually when he returned to the office to let them go. He wanted to think about it! The next day he called me in his office and had decided to suspend them each for 3 days. I disagreed, but that is exactly what he did.

    2 of my other employees left as they were not comfortable working with the 2 hot heads and I ended up leaving a short time later.

  56. Ellis Bell*

    Everybody lies, but falsifying documentation to get an unsanctioned level of power over an employee? Not everybody does that! A PIP cannot solve something so unconscionable. It requires a therapist, or real-life consequences to jar someone out of a character flaw this deep; and it is a failing of character, not a performance issue. OP, you believe this is her first infraction, but the truth is it probably isn’t. This is a very dishonest person who is already aware of her infractions and how to cover them up. If you had told her that she “crossed a line” you would only have been telling her something she already knew, and she simply would have been more careful with her cover ups and deceptions in future. This is a deeply untrustworthy person; that’s the only reason you haven’t seen it before.

  57. K in Boston*

    For my own completely nosy reasons, I SO wish we could hear from Rachel on this. Would love to know her thought process and/or how she justified this to herself. It just reads as cartoonishly villainous, and…for what? What did she gain by doing this? Seems like she just wanted to punish him for “daring” to work from the office, but not even in a passive-aggressive, petty way, like being cold to him or whatever (which would still be wrong, but I could wrap my head around that, at least). Such bizarrely disproportionate lengths to go to in order to make an extremely trivial point.

    1. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      Me too!! Part of me hopes Jason will read this and write in. That happened with someone here before – I think the ‘cheap ass rolls’ lady?

      Oh wait, I got a conspiracy backstory: Rachel was worried that him working from the office would cause a push from higher ups to come back in, and she wanted to stay working from home. And so she said she would write him up, and if he changed his mind she’d remove the write up from his file.

      Then, when he pushed back and told her it was allowed by the company, she said she would write him up for a fake thing, thinking that would change his mind, but he stood his ground.

      And now he’s writing in next Friday to AAM to post the good news on how he got away from Rachel, and has a normal job now, and is going to notify his former coworkers of vacancies in his current organization because it is not full of bees like the old organization was!

      1. Grammar Penguin*

        Here’s a possibility: We know that Rachel is comfortable lying and falsifying records. She prefers to work from home because it’s easier for her to do *shady thing*, maybe something that’s only possible if there’s nobody in the office every day. If Jason works in the office, he’ll have access to evidence of *shady thing* that he wouldn’t see if he keeps working from home. Hence, she discourages to the point of driving out the one employee who stands to interrupt or expose her *shady thing*.

      2. Candi*

        It’s happened at least three times:

        Cheap-ass rolls woman’s coworker.

        The intern who talked most of their group into petitioning for a change of dress code. Almost a year later, one of the other interns who participated wrote in to Alison for advice. They were very humble and realized how foolish they’d been to listen to “Niles”.

        The grad whose boss wouldn’t let her go to graduation, so she quit. That one was a loooooong time coming, but so satisfying.

  58. Just Another Zebra*

    LW, in addition to Alison’s advice, I think you need to do some investigating into the rest of Rachel’s team, and their files. Has Rachel made any other write-up swaps that maybe weren’t brought to light? Even if there wasn’t an official write-up, was someone spoken to or given instructions that aren’t by the book? As other’s have said, this doesn’t strike me as a first offense type move.

  59. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

    “ I would have taken over co-managing her team until I was sure she would not do something like this again”

    How exactly would you have gotten to this point where you were sure she would not lie and falsify records again? What PIP metrics would you set?

    She tricked you for a long time, and honestly is still tricking you if you’re putting peoples statements about feeling positively toward her over such a massive ethical breach. If someone punched someone it wouldn’t matter if they were otherwise liked. One thing doesn’t actually relate to, influence, or modify/mediate the other.

    I’m concerned about your judgment and what environment you may be creating or enabling in your workplace if this is your attitude toward a manager doing something as flagrantly awful and unethical as writing her employee up for doing something that your company explicitly allows, then hiding it by taking the time to create an entirely different write up to lie about what she really did! She knew it was wrong and she did it anyway and took careful steps to cover it up.

    Why didn’t Jason feel comfortable coming to you or to HR about the falsified write up? I really think you should take a hard look at your climate and how you contribute to it. Who do you favor? How do you know how your employees really feel? You should consider an anonymous climate survey and focus groups led by someone who knows what they’re doing.

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      I don’t think anybody realized the write-up had been falsified until the exit interview. Jason said he didn’t like his write-up, HR pulled it out of his file, Jason takes one look and says “That’s not the one Rachel gave me.”

      That said, if I had been Jason, there would have been footsteps on Rachel’s head as I went to LW and asked her to show me which company policy I was being written up for violating.

    2. JelloStapler*

      *If someone punched someone it wouldn’t matter if they were otherwise liked.*

      Even more so if you had a valid question as to if people were saying they liked the person in order to avoid being punched.

      1. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

        This is absolutely true! I hope LW really looks at her culture.

        What’s frustrating me about LW’s perspective is that it doesn’t matter at all, even if it was absolutely true and everyone except for Jason loved Rachel; even if Jason hated her and was a bad employee who had to be fired. This is a firing offense for Rachel, period, and I really want her to see that.

  60. Marna Nightingale*

    OP, I feel like in your head you’re still trying to deal with the “Rachel, who is great, is being kind of weird and pushy about WFH” problem, and I get that because we’re getting it all at once but for you this unfolded over period of time and the information came in drips. In that kind of situation it’s easy to not realize just how much escalation has happened.

    But “Rachel being kind of weird and pushy” stopped being the problem, and Rachel ceased to be great, when Rachel a) lied b) to create a pretext to punish her direct report who had done nothing wrong.

    That is not the first problem with the volume turned up.
    It is a whole new problem.

    Rachel’s word can’t be trusted AND she can’t be trusted to treat her people fairly.

    Also, if there was a significant gap between when you found out she had done this and when Manny found out she had done this and fired her, and Manny knows or is going to find out that that gap exists, your biggest task right now is to get your head right and re-establish yourself with Manny as a person of integrity who got a bit too caught up in a situation and has learned from it, rather than someone who will let serious dishonesty slide.

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      Really solid advice.

      I do get how as soon as we know someone personally, it can put any negative actions in the context of “sometimes good people do bad things.” (See the thread Monday about judging people based on personal interaction vs their twitter posting. And many threads on everyone else accommodating the most unreasonable person in the group.)

      1. Marna Nightingale*

        Oh yes. And also, and I struggle with this, when information is coming in dribs and drabs it’s easy to get caught up in just bolting each new piece onto your previous model of the problem, you know?

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          Caroline Knapp, in her memoir Drinking: A Love Story, says this is how alcoholic denial works; you get pieces of evidence that your drinking is out of control, but usually not in one fell swoop. It’s easy to write them off as “just one time” or bad dates or mean coworkers or whatever discrete reason “made” you drink and do something foolish, dangerous or illegal. It was just that one time, why make a big deal of it?

          The big picture, that Rachel was totally untrustworthy and had serious character flaws, is hard to face. But it has to be.

    2. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      “ That is not the first problem with the volume turned up.
      It is a whole new problem.”

      Brilliantly said and I’m tucking this phrase away for future use.

  61. L.Miller*

    It’s fraud!!! Period.
    She falsified an employee record. It caused him to leave but what if it had been something that affected his pay or health insurance or reputation.
    I agree with others that this probably isn’t Rachel’s first time, just first time discovered.
    And honestly if I were Manny I’d have doubts about OP.
    OP should have been just as outraged and 100% supporting Manny’s decision.
    If the details of all this gets out the message to staff will be Manny had our back. Our manger OP not so much.

  62. migrating coconuts*

    PROBABLY would have put her on a pip? This person should not be managing anyone. She thinks what Rachel did wasn’t that bad? Writing someone up for something that is not wrong, AT ALL, and then falsifying documentation? Damaging someone’s record? If I were that guy, I would have taken it all the way up the chain of command the minute Rachel wrote me up. Rachel is vindictive, manipulative and downright a liar. She should have been fired immediately. If I was letter writer’s manager and she came to me and said these things, I would seriously question her judgment. At the very least I would put her on a pip herself, probably demote her out of management, and possible fire her. If she thinks Rachel’s behavior is minor, what else has letter writer been doing, or brushing under the rug?

  63. CatCat*

    Oh yeah, Rachel had to go. Who knows what else she was up to. Inventing and lying about petty ways to harm an employee is egregious.

  64. Sue Wilson*

    OP I find that when people object to clear circumstances like this, it’s clear that they don’t understand the justification for giving people power.

    You give people power because you believe the control they have over other people is balanced by their judgement. You give people power because you believe you can trust them to not abuse it.

    Rachel abused her power, which is strike one, and for no reasonable reason, strike two. Manny fired Rachel because that means she can no longer effectively do her job. The reason for giving her this power no longer exists. You seem to believe that firing people is a punishment and I want to challenge that. This was not a (necessarily) punishment; this was required by Manny (and YOU) because the power you all hold required that you remove someone who cannot be trusted to not abuse the power they were giving. Because that’s why you have power.

  65. September*

    “I would have taken over co-managing her team until I was sure she would not do something like this again.” The thing is, you could never be sure she would not do something like this again. She’s shown you can’t trust her. Not doing something like this (that you know about) for a certain amount of time doesn’t mean she wouldn’t do it or something even worse later.

  66. lb*

    Whew boy. I really thought the falsifying was going to be in the employee’s favor (like saying she wrote him up & didn’t, or down playing the nature of whatever caused the write up) and I was more sympathetic to that… but this is BAD bad. I can maybe see arguing for a PIP if she’d been at the company for years and years and had previously been celebrated for her leadership or something? But for someone who is an average level good-employee…

  67. Lily Potter*

    It’d be fascinating to read Jason’s “real” write up. What could it say? “Jason continues to work at the office when I’ve told him he shouldn’t come in anymore?”

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      She probably wrote it up as violating a company rule which was really not a rule at all. I’ve seen that before.

  68. Sick of Workplace Bullshit (she/her)*

    I find it worrying that the LW *doesn’t* think this is a fireable offence. I think Manny should be keeping a closer eye on LW.

    1. spaceelf*

      I think it’s a major oversight on LW’s part, but I think we should be a little kind here and not accuse the LW of anything nefarious. Some management cultures have something of tunnel vision with it comes to the letter of the rules versus the spirit of the rules. This is a good learning opportunity for LW. Getting perspective on the bigger picture, which is what Manny clearly has and LW as a lower manager does not seem to possess.

      Now, they do.

      1. Sick of Workplace Bullshit (she/her)*

        I’m not accusing the LW of anything, other than digging into their thoughts and management style. As many of the other commenters have done.

  69. ChemistryChick*

    Rachel absolutely deserved to be fired over this. As many others have pointed out, if she’s willing to lie about this, what else was she lying about/covering up/hiding from you? If I were an employee and Rachel hadn’t been fired, I’d be job searching immediately.

    LW, it’s concerning that you as a manager don’t see how seriously out of bounds Rachel was here.

  70. Delphine*

    LW, if Manny wrote you up over nothing and then filed a false report about you that affected your annual review, would you be happy if he kept his job?

  71. But Not the Hippopotamus*

    I noticed that not only did she go against policy, and falsify documents, but she ALSO used a person’s marital/family status and living situation as a reason. Now whether Jason’s mental health needed a break from being home all the time, he wanted to separate work from home, or prefers the office’s lighting or chairs… She used protected class information to justify her actions. This is no different from saying that because he doesn’t have kids he can’t take off the day after Thanksgiving, in terms of being problematic for the employer.

    And that’s on top of going against policy and falsifying records.

  72. xl*

    Falsification of documents is a huge deal.

    I work in government and I know there’s a trope that it’s nigh impossible to fire a government worker, but falsification of documents is one thing that will absolutely get you fired, no questions asked.

  73. Jojo*

    I am baffled by LW’s take in this letter. What?

    Also, for all the times that Allison has to say that telling the truth in an exit interview probably won’t make any difference, I’m happy to get a story where information from an exit interview actually did lead to a change for the better.

  74. Observer*

    LW, if you don’t want get fired with a bad reference, BACK OFF!

    To be honest, if I saw your letter and I were Manny, I would be seriously looking at your continued employment. At minimum, I would be managing you MUCH more closely and I would be re-examining all of your other decisions as well.

    Let’s start with your indignation that Manny had the temerity to over-ride your decision, and to do so without asking you first. It’s a major red flag for me. Let’s start with the fact that management ALWAYS has the right to over-ride the decisions of the people they manage (assuming legality, ethics, etc.) Your failure to recognize that is a problem all on it’s own.

    So is the fact that your reaction to Rachel’s behavior is that “it was wrong” (but not SO bad, implied.) What she did was egregious. What does it take, in your opinion, for someone to be fireable on a first strike? If she had hit someone because they were being insubordinate, would you have said the same thing? If she had said that she’s not giving someone a raise because the are female / black / Muslim / etc. would that be enough?

    When someone over-rides company policy in favor of their own personal preferences the lies about it and goes on to *falsify documents*, how much worse can you get? Throw in the fact that her excuse for this is ridiculous and intrusive AND could open the company to legal liability (her comments on his family status should give any competent HR and Employment lawyer palpitations!), and why do you even think that this was something anyone could recover from?

    Then there is the fact that your staff apparently don’t believe that they have any real avenue to escalate their issues. AND that you apparently believe that all decisions made by a manager should be backed by their managers and I have to wonder what OTHER things people don’t think they can escalate. Every company MUST have an escalation path where people can bypass their manager(s). This is a matter of good management, good governance and law. Yet, your staff didn’t go to you or HR. Manny may be worrying that you have illegally encouraged people to believe that they are not allowed to actually use those escalation paths, or that even if the do use them they are not going to make a difference.

    As a manager I have to worry about good people leaving rather than taking things up the chain. We KNOW that it is happening – Jason left because of his manager and he assumed that nothing would be done about it if he tried to escalate it. Manny is probably worried about who else left and did NOT tell the whole truth in their exit interview. And maybe he’s concerned that people know what happened and THAT is why they are all saying only nice things about Rachel. That they knew that you would never do anything about the issue, and they are not going to be stupid and say bad things about a supervisor who is vindictive and petty if she might hear about it.

    You say that this was Rachel’s first infraction. How would you even know that? Remember, she not only lied to your face she ALSO falsified HR documents! That means that you cannot trust ANYTHING that she put into ANYONE’S files! Keep in mind that you also have proof that at least some of the time people are NOT coming to you when their manager is out of line. Have you thought about the implications of that – clearly you do not have a solid idea of what is actually going on in your department. And people are right not to come to you – your response to Rachel’s behavior is really worrisome. You clearly don’t seem to recognize that what your employee did was egregious, which means that as an employee I would never trust you to handle a situation like that appropriately.

    Also, you say that you would co-manage with her ” until I was sure she would not do something like this again.” And how would you ever be able to be sure? It’s not like you have thought about what she did and recognized the signs of her dishonesty and capriciousness. In fact your whole push back seems to be based on the fact that there *is* nothing to see here. So what would give you confidence that the day you stop looking over her shoulder she would not go back to this kind of behavior.

    Instead of pushing back, I would go to HR and say that you realized that there may be more to this and that perhaps it’s worth looking at her write ups, and specifically her turnover, to see if there is anything concerning that needs to be dealt with. And also go through with them all of the escalation paths that are supposed to exist in your company – and have HR provide this information to your staff! With a *real* commitment from you 1. you will take ALL complaints with the seriousness they warrant (which you did NOT do here!) and 2. you will NOT interfere with or penalize (even informally) anyone who uses those escalation paths. And the start working on becoming someone that your staff at all levels can actually TRUST to come to you if they need to.

    If you want an example of what can happen when you don’t have any visibility into your teams and you don’t handle bad behavior from the get go look at the letter from the person who has a team that was destroying itself by driving off every person who was hired to fill a particular position. Link to follow.

  75. Cat's Paw for Cats*

    OP, I am deeply concerned that you don’t see this as an automatic termination. Rachel has proved to be duplicitous, and punitive toward an employee without cause. She knew she was wrong, or she wouldn’t have lied about her reasons for the PIP. She has already run off one employee because of this dishonest behavior. She simply cannot be allowed to remain. Perhaps some additional management training for you is in order.

  76. Eeyore is my spirit animal*

    I misread huddle as cuddle, and I thought that must have been an interesting meeting.

  77. Lizzianna*

    LW is really underreacting to this.

    I would honestly do some soul searching on what kind of climate exists that a manager could pull something like this and your employees didn’t feel like they could come to you until they already had something else lined up. If this isn’t a fireable offense in your mind, what other things have you been willing to overlook? I can’t believe this is the first time she’s pulled something like this. It’s just too extreme.

  78. StressedButOkay*

    LW, as a manager, I get wanting to see if you can help any of your direct reports fix their issues. But there’s no coaching someone who lies and punishes someone that they manage because they’re angry at them. She falsified documentation that impacted his annual review. He then quit because of it, costing your organization a valuable worker.

    Any trust that the company had in her was immediately over. Yes, perhaps your boss should have brought you in but this is such an egregious issue that nothing beyond immediate termination can be done.

    1. Lizzianna*

      This is a good point.

      I once caught an employee lying to my face. For a variety of reasons, I couldn’t fire him right away.

      The measures I had to put in place because I couldn’t trust him were beyond micromanaging. It was unsustainable and he and I were both miserable. Luckily, he saw the writing on the wall, and that even though I couldn’t fire him over this event, things were moving in that direction, and he found a position elsewhere. But to be honest, there was not a way we were going to recover from this.

      1. BL73*

        This exact thing happened to me. My employee lied about utilizing a report, even knowing I can check the records to make sure the report was utilized. And then when I was talking to him about integrity and honesty in our roles, he turned around after and sent a scathing email to another manager he felt had “threw him under the bus” on a prior project. When confronted with this, he denied sending the email. I had to get IT to pull his records to show it did indeed come from his laptop. That was the beginning of the end. He quit before the end of his 60 day PIP. I wanted to fire him for lying but HR said he had to give him a chance to turn it around. IMO, you can’t coach someone not to lie. It’s an integrity issue.

      2. Pierrot*

        This didn’t happen at an employer but at an organization I used to be part of. An employee with a public facing role plagiarized a speech and it was in a really egregious way. Members of the organization previously really liked this employee previously and were compassionate towards her, but she lost a lot of trust. I’m not privy to the specifics, but she had a contract and it was not renewed at the end of the year. For that specific position, it wasn’t really feasible to immediately fire her but they suspended her and took away a lot of responsibilities. It was sad because I don’t think anyone thought she plagiarized out of maliciousness (unlike Rachel)—the general belief was that she was under a lot of stress due to some personal life things and made a significant error in judgment. Ultimately that didn’t matter because she knew that what she was doing was wrong, she could have asked for help and she didn’t, and her manager definitely had to go back through everything she had written to make sure that it wasn’t plagiarized.

  79. Keymaster of Gozer*

    Things you PIP for:
    Low work output
    Low attention to detail

    Things you can’t PIP for:
    Fraudulent behaviour

  80. Irish Teacher*

    It’s possible the LW is just the type of person who feels everybody should get a second chance and is looking at Rachel’s whole record. However, as others have said, that logic can be problematic when dealing with somebody who has targetted somebody with less power than them, because it is always those with the power (whether that be position in the company, wealth, influencial friends or privilege due to race, gender, etc) who get the “oh, but he/she has such a good record. They shouldn’t have to lose everything over this one little incident.”

    1. Irish Teacher*

      To be clear, I am not saying this was a minor incident, just that abuses of power by people with previous good records can be seen that way and some people are very good at the “kiss up, kick down,” so the Rachel the LW sees and the Rachel her team sees might be very different. I know the LW said her team were positive about her, which makes that a little less probable, but it’s also possible that if she is that type, her team might not feel comfortable making complaints or may all possibly even believe that everybody else likes her.

      I’m not saying any of this is so, but Rachel has indicated a tendency to lie and retaliate, so…it’s easy to imagine her team being reluctant to criticise her.

  81. Decima Dewey*

    I don’t buy the “first offense” as an extenuating circumstance. If Rachel’s first offense was embezzling from Jason’s retirement fund, would LW shrug and put Rachel on a PIP?

    1. Totally Minnie*

      Exactly! You wouldn’t say “she only embezzled once” or “she only punched one client.” Some things are bad enough that the first offense should also be the last.

      Also, it’s important to remember that LW can’t be sure this was actually Rachel’s first offense. All we know for sure is it’s the first time she’s been caught.

      1. RWM*

        ding ding ding @Minnie…I’d immediately be questioning what other lies she’s told over the years that just hadn’t come to light

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        I remember a storyline in Mad Men where a character is caught embezzling and Don has to fire him. The comments were full of how Don could have saved the guy’s job.

        Actual workers in real businesses in turn wrote that there was NO SAVING this guy’s job. You wanted to help him because the character was very sympathetic, but he was lucky Don didn’t tell the rest of the board and have him arrested. If he had tried to keep him on he’s the one who would have been rightfully fired for A) not telling the company it was being ripped off and B) actively working to keep the thief employed there!

        1. Bunny Lake Is Found*

          Also, what that character did was so much more of an “error in judgement” than what Rachel did here. The character basically “borrowed” the money because they had their kids’ school fees due but was slated to get a bonus about a month later (so they planned to just put the money back). Circumstances changed and the character doesn’t get the bonus (due to no fault of their own) and basically cannot put the money back before he gets caught in an audit.

          Also, Don was literally committing non-stop identity theft and should have been fired for that when it lead to the company losing a massive project because they were employing a criminal and they needed government security clearances. The point of the show was kind of that other people had to live with the consequences of their actions, but Don doesn’t.

          Pretty much everyone on that show had a better reason for their terrible choices at work (well, except Harry, he was just the worst) than Rachel. Even the underlings responsible for the lawn mower incident.

    2. Boof*

      Who knows! That’d a good question for LW. I think there are sone people out there who will excuse anything if somehow it “wasn’t explicitly clear” it was wrong. Where explicit = specifically discussed our written out somewhere

  82. spaceelf*

    I hope this is a good learning opportunity for the LW. It is easy to miss the forest for the trees, but as a manager you need to be able to see when the forest is also on fire.

  83. Heffalump*

    What Rachel did was unacceptable, but it would have been more understandable if Jason had wanted to work from home and she had wanted him in the office.

    1. goducks*

      No, it wouldn’t have been. The issue here is not the WFH/WFO choice at all, it’s that Rachel disciplined an employee for making a choice he was free to make, and then falsified the documentation of it for his HR file.
      It doesn’t matter what the original choice was, Rachel’s bad behavior is not ok or understandable!

      1. Heffalump*

        No, I totally agree with you. When I said Rachel’s behavior would have been more understandable, understandable != right.

    2. Peanut Hamper*

      No, it woudln’t.

      For one thing, the choice of whether to work from home or in the office was entirely left up to the employees. Managers who wanted to work from home were not required to come into the office even if their employees did.

      For another thing, in what world is it “understandable” to write up an employee for something which is not actually an offense, and then to CREATE FAKE DOCUMENTS saying that he did commit an actual offense, which he most certainly did not?

      To think that this would in any way be understandable is just bananapants.

    3. Madame X*

      It is never acceptable for a manager to lie about why they are writing up an employee. It is also never acceptable for a manager to punish an employee for following company policy. There was literally no reason for her to feel so aggrieved by Manny’s decision to work from the office. She didn’t have to work in the office just because one of her employees chose to.

    4. StressedButOkay*

      Not at all, given that the company had a warm, open policy that benefited those who wanted to work from home and those who wanted to work from the office. Writing him up, then lying about why he was written up and falsifying documentation – there’s nothing that excuses that.

  84. IDFriend*

    Victim of false negative statement in my review here. Rachel and LW are waaaayyyy out of line. Not only did Rachel lie with false documentation, she damaged Jason’s chances of a raise or a promotion with that company. To say nothing of commenting on Jason’s personal life?

  85. Somehow_I_Manage*

    Manny is my guy. Not only did he do the objectively right thing without hesitation, but, he took the responsibility of firing Rachel off LW’s plate!

  86. Pookie87*

    You say that Rachel hadn’t had any other issues. It is highly likely that she had other issues that she hid and management didn’t know about. This is so egregious I can’t imagine that she hasn’t done shady things before that you didn’t find out about.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      Right. She shows she’ll cover up her behavior – she has other issues. HR questioned other employees and found no problems – how much can you trust that they’d be honest? OP is taking a lot of things on face value.

  87. Cthulhu's Librarian*

    I just want to highlight that Rachel’s thoughts on why work firm home was ideal are just as ridiculous as the write up – being single and living alone can often mean that some has more reason to want to work from the office, because they need the social outlet of seeing and interacting with other people.

    Damning someone to social isolation over her own preferences was horrible judgment by Rachel.

    -someone who moved halfway across the continent for a new job with no support network recently, and finds the thought of being penalized for preferring to work in person horrifically isolating

    1. Dread Pirate Roberts*

      I know the rest of it is more egregious – falsifying and lying – but this was my thought too. Rachel is also just flat-out wrong and potentially cruel in her reasoning. Work from home is not always great for people who might be feeling isolated.

    2. Lady_Lessa*

      I agree with you CL. I am similar challenged with my social needs. I’m like Jason in that aspect. Except my roommate (cat ) could walk on my computer and do an excellent job of deleting etc. (The last time she did that she earned the title of Caticus Braticus Maximus for deleting about 300 emails. I have recovered the important ones, and the rest are staying deleted)

  88. Emily*

    I think some of the comments are being unnecessarily harsh to LW. I don’t agree with LW’s reasoning, but some comments are doing nothing other than bashing LW. We’ve heard a lot of stories about people being fired out of the blue for petty reasons or being fired for something they should have been warned about first, that it can be easy to get in the mindset of, “Everyone deservers to be talked to before they are let go.” However, there are some offenses that are so egregious that they require firing with no second chances being given, and what Rachel did is one of those offenses.

    LW, you said all of Rachel’s other direct reports liked her, but I am guessing they would change their mind if they found out what she did to Jason. If I had a manager I otherwise liked, but I found out they did what Rachel did, I would no longer trust them, and worry that they would do the same thing to me. What Rachel did was not just in error in judgement. She falsified records and was underhanded and duplicitous. You can’t have someone like that working at your company.

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      I really think Jason was the one who was treated harshly here.

      LW is a manager of other managers and can’t see why fabricating documents is a fireable offense? Yeah, there’s a lot of shade that needs to be thrown at that situation. Commenters being harsh is the least thing she should be worried about right now.

      I could see it if this were LW’s first management position, but no. She describes “all my time being a manager at multiple companies”. She should know better by now. Fabrication of documentation is never acceptable, and could open up their company to severe liabilities. Companies have been put out of business because of this.

      1. Emily*

        No one is arguing that Jason was treated appropriately, but if we want LW to take our advice, being nasty and harsh is not effective. Alison has left a note saying comments on this letter should be constructive, and one of the site’s commenting rules is to be kind to letter writers and fellow commenters. Since Alison has already made a note of it, I don’t feel it needs to be discussed further.

        1. Anonychick*

          Not that it matters, considering *gestures vaguely* everything else, but:

          We have no idea who did/didn’t know about Jason’s (real) write-up.

          Some of this has been discussed: did others Rachel’s team know? If so, they might have thought upper management was okay with it, and that’s why they said they liked her.

          But there’s another group that I haven’t seen mentioned: all of LW’s other teams.

          If anyone on any of LW’s other teams knew what was going on with Rachel & Jason (but didn’t know about the falsified wrote-up), it would have looked like LW knew about it, too, which could have had any or all of the following effects:
          — A hesitancy to report any problems with their direct managers: “If she didn’t do anything about Rachel, why would she help me with this less-egregious thing?”
          — A tendency to do whatever their direct manager said (no matter how unacceptable), lest they be penalized: “If Rachel could write up Jason for FOLLOWING POLICY, my manager could write me up for anything!”
          — A general lowering of morale: “Who cares/why should I bother/it doesn’t matter. It’s not like policy counts for anything around here.”
          — Probably lots of other things I’m not even thinking of.

          LW has to be able to make it very clear (through her actions) to the reports of ALL her reporting managers that she had no idea what Rachel had done. And I feel like she can’t do that without understanding that, aside from anything else, if AND WHEN LW knew about Rachel’s behavior and chose not to fire her, she would have became complicit in it. (And that goes all the way up the chain: the instant Manny knew, the instant HR knew, etc. But my concern here is how LW might be coming across, because she’s the one who didn’t want to fire Rachel.)

    2. Madame X*

      I actually find that most of the comments criticizing the letter writer’s response are pretty reasonable. The situation is just so egregious that it’s quickly turning into one of these posts that’s going to have 400+ comments of people basically saying the same thing. I doubt that the letter writer is going to read every single comment but I do hope that she reads Alison’s response and reevaluates her initial assessment of this fiasco that Rachel caused.

  89. Polar Vortex*


    Something else to consider along with the comments here:
    Why did it take Jason until his exit interview to bring this up? What environment exists that he didn’t feel like he could immediately come to you – his manager’s manager – with that write up and say “this is inappropriate”.

    How often do you have face time with the employees of the people you manage? To build trust, to ensure you have a pulse on the work environment your manager cultivates. Have you given them reasons to trust you’d take action or conversely, believe you’d sweep it under the rug? Do your employees trust their managers, you, your boss? It sounds like no, at least in the case of Jason. It sounds like your boss it attempting to fix that with firing a problematic manager and touching base with her team. But it sounds like you and your manager, and whomever you hire to replace Rachel, have a lot of work to do to cultivate trust in your department.

    1. Lady_Lessa*

      Honest question. How was Jason able to know that there was a MAJOR discrepancy between what he signed (probably under duress) and what was placed in his file?

      1. Lizzianna*

        Even if he was unaware of the fraud, he was written up for doing something that the company clearly told him it was okay to do, and was his decision.

        If that happened to me, I’d go to my grandboss or HR and just say, “hey, what’s up? I thought the policy was that I could choose to work from the office or from home, but Rachael just wrote me up for it. Where is this disconnect coming from?”

        But I work in a functional office and have seen HR deal with supervisors that have gone mad with power.

      2. AngryOctopus*

        Well, I think he signed the “you want to WFO and you’re a horrible person because of it”, and immediately mentally was like “yeah, I’m not going to stick around here”. Then when he did his exit interview he said “Hey, it was completely bananacrackers for me to be written up for choosing to be in the office over WFH” and HR was like “uh, no, you got written up for [insert suitable lie here]?”. And he pulled out his documentation and said “certainly not, here it is in writing”.

      3. Polar Vortex*

        I don’t know if he did, according to what the LW wrote. It sounds like he quit because of the write up (and the subsequent effect on his pay) and said why. It’s likely they then dug into it during/after that meeting and got his copy of the write up. So good on their exit interviewer for doing their due diligence.

    2. irene adler*

      This is an important point. You never know what might be going on that should not be going on. There needs to be trust for folks to report anything that doesn’t sit well.

      I witnessed a manager that played favorites. Then she decided to play a practical joke on one of her reports. The only male on the swing shift.

      The manager got someone to call work, ask for this male co-worker by name and then impersonate a police officer claiming to have witnessed him commit a crime (theft). Thing is, he had swiped the salt & pepper shakers at a restaurant the evening prior. He thought they were unique and liked them very much. This was in the presence of several co-workers and the manager.

      Never seen anyone so stressed in my life. Couldn’t even eat his lunch.

      Manager threatened everyone with being written up for insubordination if we told this co-worker what was going on.

      Given the relationship between this manager and her manager (they were buddies), I wasn’t sure if the right thing would happen if I escalated this. Couldn’t risk being fired for insubordination.

  90. JelloStapler*

    *If someone punched someone it wouldn’t matter if they were otherwise liked.*

    Even more so if you had a valid question as to if people were saying they liked the person in order to avoid being punched.

  91. Starscourge Savvy*

    I get the impression, LW, that you’re missing the forest for the trees a little bit. From your letter it kind of seems like you’re feeling that Manny making a decision about your team without your input is worse than Rachel’s actual offense. I can see how that could happen! It’s easier to take Manny’s actions personally than it is Rachel’s, but I’d really encourage you to take a step back and assess what Rachel did with clear eyes. She wrote up an employee for making a decision in his own best interest that the company was fully supporting him in making. She let it affect his livelihood when he was promised that it wouldn’t. And she lied to you about it!

    Think about it from Jason’s perspective: he was explicitly told that his decision about his work location, which he best positioned to make for himself, would be supported no matter the outcome. That turned out to not only be false, but in addition, he was reprimanded to the point that it affected his file and annual review! That’s his livelihood! Of course he left for another job–not only did all the above happen, his boss LIED and FALSIFIED DOCUMENTS that are directly connected to his ability to keep his job and support himself. You cannot trust a person and have a person on your team that will do that to the people they manage. Full stop.

    It’s easy to be upset when decisions are made that you think you should be a part of or are qualified to handle. What if Manny had told you that firing or keeping Rachel was your decision, and then punished you for your answer?

    Manny is not your enemy here. Managing is hard, and the emotional investment in your job and your people only makes it harder. I think a real reassessment of the situation would do you some good.

  92. Gato Blanco*

    I am completely horrified that the letter write thinks this is a mistake that could warrant keeping the employee on. KNOWINGLY falsifying documentation, especially to penalize something that is perfectly within company policy, is not in any way a coachable issue. If I were her manager, I would be *heavily* questioning her judgement and watching her like a hawk moving forward.

  93. JB (not in Houston)*

    I think the OP might just be a very kind person, to a degree that is hampering her. There are people who really want to believe the best of everyone and always give people the benefit of the doubt, sure that there is some legitimate excuse for a person’s bad behavior. Those people really hate firing anybody because it seems unfair for what is surely a misunderstanding or one-off act for which the person is truly regretful. That kind of person is a good counterweight to the people who always believe the worst and are always ready to be as punitive as possible. The impulse to be kind is a good one.

    But the view that there is surely a good reason for whatever the behavior is and the willingness to always give another chance, that does not lead to good management if unchecked. If you have that kind of mindset, your kind heart can be my friend any time, but you can’t be a good manager unless you know that you’re like that and know how to be more objective. You just can’t not fire someone in this situation. Once you go home for the day, you can sit in your living room and give Rachel the benefit of the doubt in your personal life all you want. But while you are acting as a manager, you just can’t. Not for this.

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      Someone upthread used the term “naive” which I think is apropos here. Naiveté is not a feature you want in someone with power over the people who can hurt you. Your boss; your teacher; your local police chief.

      1. Lilas*

        A naïve manager who mismanages can be as bad as a malicious one. Is a giant who steps on you because he’s not watching his step better than one who does it on purpose? Not to the flattened villager.

    2. Observer*

      I think the OP might just be a very kind person, to a degree that is hampering her

      No. To quote a Talmudic saying “One who is kind to the cruel is cruel to the kind.”

      The OP is being cruel to every person who was ever under Rachel’s power.

      1. Bunny Lake Is Found*

        I don’t think I agree that this must be the case. I worry that LW is taking Rachel’s team at their word that they love Rachel and the LW is thinking that losing Rachel would be negative for the team Rachel used to manage. Hopefully, the comments here about why the team might have said that Rachel was great to avoid retaliation have sunk in a bit and LW can now see that keeping Rachel on would be worse for those employees, not better.

  94. JustMe*

    I do understand your frustration, OP. I sense that your frustration is more with the fact that the manager made the decision without consulting you, and I think that it could be worthwhile to have a conversation with them about it. Even something like, “I’ve been thinking a lot about Rachel’s firing. I agree with you 100% that her actions were out of line and I understand why she was let go. But I also admittedly felt caught off guard when I heard that you had made the decision to fire her without talking to me first. Because I’m in charge of this division, I worry about the effect it has on the team when certain decisions are made about team members without me knowing about them. Could we talk about this a little more?” I agree with Alison’s assessment that the firing really was warranted, but talking to your boss about why it played out the way that it did and expressing your concerns about not being involved may clear the air.

  95. Keep Smiling*

    I can understand OP’s thought process – everyone speaks highly of Rachel, she’s never had any other issues, so her first infraction shouldn’t be an automatic fire. But 1) this was a very serious infraction, and 2) I think that the way a manager treats their least favorite employee speaks volumes more about them than how they treat their favorite employees.

    Rachel being pleasant to everyone but Jason isn’t a sign that Rachel is mostly a good manager except for this one time. It’s a sign that Rachel cannot be trusted to behave professionally unless her direct reports are in her good graces, which are determined by completely arbitrary standards, and that’s a serious issue.

    1. All Het Up About It*

      I think that the way a manager treats their least favorite employee speaks volumes more about them than how they treat their favorite employees.

      This is a really good statement. Thank you!

  96. Kindred Spirit*

    I’m still scratching my head about why Rachel would take issue with someone going into the office rather than working from home. Usually managers want their team in the office more, not less. Not the point of the letter, I know, but it left me wondering why it would matter so much to her that she’d falsify a write-up. If I were Manny, I’d be taking a very close look at everything Rachel was doing. She may have been trying to hide something.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      I’m struggling with this too. I have a couple of theories
      -people are INTENSE about their WFH preferences and Rachel feels that an employee choosing to go into the office is undermining her stance that WFH is best
      -Rachel is doing other shady stuff that’s easier to hide if there’s no in person scrutiny on her team

      1. Grammar Penguin*

        That second one is the reason this company should now do a full audit of everything she touched. That’s pretty costly right there, even if they don’t find anything shady.

      2. Clobberin' Time*

        The second jumps out as most likely. There have been plenty of letters about bosses who disappear for long stretches of the day, or claim to be on ‘projects’ or ‘at satellite offices’ when they’re just goofing off. I would put money on Rachel working a lot less than she claims to, and someone being in the office making that much more difficult.

    2. Tesuji*

      The one that comes to mind is that Rachel is threatened by Jason: Him being in the office could potentially mean he’d have more face time and interaction with other people in the office, which lets him build personal connections (and also prevents Rachel from being the sole creator of the narrative of what her team is doing).

      Her being worried about him being promoted out from her control would also explain her need to write him up.

      1. spaceelf*

        I think it was the fact that managers much come in if any of their staff is in the office was the ‘problem’. Rachel wanted to work from home. Jason didn’t, and his decision would force her into the office. Obviously, it doesn’t matter, he was allowed to make that choice and she didn’t like it.

        1. Myrin*

          I think you misread that – the letter says “managers didn’t have to go in if they had any staff on site”.

  97. Jay*

    “I’m guessing that Manny fired Rachel without consulting you because the decision seemed so obvious — the same way he might have fired someone on the spot for punching a client without first running it by you.”

    Does this mean that it would have been okay to punch the client if Rachel ran it by him first?

    I know it’s not helpful, but that’s how I read it, and it gave me a really good laugh on an otherwise crappy day!

  98. Orange You Glad*

    The falsifying info is bad enough, but I would also be concerned about why Rachel felt a write-up was warranted for this type of interaction at all. She didn’t like that one employee prefers to work in the office. That is not the type of disagreement that rises to the level of writing up an employee.

  99. Auga*

    OP, in addition to what everyone has suggested above, please reflect on why the truth only came out in Jason’s exit interview. He had no doubt Rachel was abusing her authority against him, since he knew the policy was free choice about working from home. Yet he didn’t appeal to you. Why? Are you responsible for creating or perpetuating a team culture where no one dares escalate up to you? Could the reason for his silence be linked to how even now you are supporting Rachel?

    1. TX_Trucker*

      Great points. I think the LW and Manny should both be concerned about any discipline that other employee’s in the organization received. If Jason wasn’t willing to escalate his concern, there are probably many other skeletons.

  100. RB*

    So Rachel not only committed the main offense, but she also seems to be completely lacking in empathy. Jason had a sound reason for wanting to be in the office — none of his team were there yet he wanted to be there, so he was probably feeling a great deal of social isolation, working from home, since she said he lives alone. Apparently Jason’s needs or reasons didn’t matter to Rachel.

  101. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

    LW, The idea that it was a first offense, so Rachel should have gotten a warning but not been fired, and various comments that no, it’s the first offense you know of, reminds me of something from several years ago.

    This was about sexual harassment: a friend of mine reported a man to his employer for harassing her, and somewhere in there, the HR person asked “is this an official complaint?” Friend thought that was an odd question, but said yes.

    It then transpired that they’d had many similar complaints in the past, asked the same question, gotten a “no,” and swept it under the rug, rather than thinking “Jane is the fifteenth person to complain about this guy sexually harassing her, this pattern matters.”

    And then, because it was the first official/publicized complaint, a lot of people were saying and/or thinking things like “he deserves another chance” and worrying about the effects on the offender’s career, rather than all the women who’d had to decide whether their careers were worth putting up with sexual harassment.

    Please, don’t be that person. Rachel was fired, not sent to jail or deported.

  102. Quickbeam*

    As a line manager I can see that the benefits of someone who is otherwise liked and effective would blur the lines. But the company likely saw Jason’s documentation as a legal nightmare and the decision to terminate a clear one.

  103. Jodi*

    Rachel knew she was waaaay wrong here as she tried to hide her actions by falsifying documents. This is not a PIP/coaching issue.

  104. Kella*

    OP, I know you’re unlikely to see this because it’s buried under so many comments but I just wanted to further break down for you why Rachel’s behavior was unrecoverable.

    Rachel had a disproportionate emotional reaction to a decision her employee made, a decision he was *invited* to make and that did not affect her at all. This would already be a reason to dig in further to figure out what was motivating her, since this reaction brings up questions about her judgment.

    Rachel’s justification for this emotional reaction was that Jason would be perfect for WFH because of his life circumstances. This justification is both illogical because it relies on a bunch of assumptions Rachel is making about Jason, but it also depends on the idea that Rachel’s opinion of Jason’s work setup is relevant to what he does. The instructions from upper management should have already informed her that her opinion wasn’t relevant, but she ignored those instructions. Ignoring instructions from upper management would already be serious enough but it’s even more serious that she allowed an irrational emotional response (which we all have sometimes) to be the reason she ignored those instructions.

    Rachel ignored upper management instructions in favor of punishing Jason when he was following upper management instructions. If your manager is disincentivizing following the instructions of upper management with her reports, that by itself is potentially a deal breaker. She abused her position as manager knowing that upper management would disapprove. A PIP is dependent on the employee recognizing that their behavior/performance has not matched expectations AND wanting to change that. Rachel demonstrated that she is not motivated to avoid problem behaviors and she is motivated to cover them up.

    And lastly, Rachel falsified the documentation for the write-up. She lied to you about her performance AND her employees performance. As Alison has written about many times before, the logical consequence of someone lying to you is you now have to verify absolutely everything they say externally (and potentially everything they’ve said in the past too.) Their input becomes more of a drain on resources than a contribution. It’s not resource effective to keep paying them for input and work you can’t trust.

    And on a more personal note, OP, I’m curious about what your history with people lying to you has looked like and if you have been pressured in the past to let it go.

  105. Anallamadingdong*

    I feel like if Rachel was NOT fired and news of the false write up were to get out among staff, there would be some major morale issues. An employee not being punished for serious offenses is a great way for management to lose the respect of their direct reports. It could be a deal breaker some employees and they could start looking to jump ship. I would.

  106. Mrs. Hawiggins*

    The only acceptable lie at work is answering “No” when being asked if you knew about the surprise birthday party ahead of time. Then, copping to it later.

    This could have cost the man a job later down the line – references, or work history, or…
    Being written up for WANTING to come in to work. Wow.

  107. Skippy*

    There are 3 possible wrongs here: Rachel penalized Jason without justification (which she clearly knew was wrong because she tried to cover it up), Rachel lied about it (which Manny and Alison identified as the crux of the matter), and Manny acting unilaterally (which is a breach of protocol but nothing else).

    LW seems to see #3 as most important, #1 as second most, and just not really weigh #2. LW, this is a big problem in your priorities.

  108. nonny*

    OK this is all so weird though I HAVE to ask — is it at all possible that *Jason* is the one who falsified his version of the write-up and is making this all up as a weird way to get at Rachel on his way out the door? Did Rachel fess up to falsifying it when confronted? What did she say about all this?

    1. Lady_Lessa*

      From LW’s question ” Manny fired Rachel immediately and did not consult me. He says she had no excuse and her statement that work from home was perfect for someone like Jason (because he is single, lives alone, and has no parenting/caregiving duties) was out of line.”

      I’m sure that Manny would have asked to see the paperwork that Jason signed and compared it to what was in the file.

      1. Antilles*

        Rachel’s own words are convicting her here.
        If it was bogus, her initial response would have been a confused “huh? what are you even talking about?” followed by a vigorous denial, claiming that wasn’t real, arguing that Jason was misrepresenting the facts, etc.
        Instead, Rachel’s response was to “make no excuse” and justify her decision to make him work from home and making “no excuse” – which itself is an admission that Jason’s version of the story is at least close to accurate.

    2. Observer*

      According to the OP Manny had “ her statement that work from home was perfect for someone like Jason (because he is single, lives alone, and has no parenting/caregiving duties)“.

      Also, HR seems to have done a fair bit of due diligence here. Which makes it highly unlikely that Jason is the one lying.

    3. SJJ*

      I came here to ask that same question. If everyone else liked her as a manager and there have been no infractions/history of this type of behavior, it sounds like a really egregious change in character.

      1. MsM*

        Or, as others have noted, there’s an unhealthy culture across the entire team that also needs to be dealt with.

      2. Dawn*

        It sounds more to me like Jason hit on her Pet Issue.

        Some people can be absolutely fantastic – until you accidentally push the wrong button and find out, I don’t know, that they think people who eat meat are murderers, or that they despise trans people, or that they have an extreme dislike of people from Burundi and nowhere else for some reason. (“There are only two things I can’t stand in this world: People who are intolerant of other people’s cultures, and the Dutch.”)

        So Rachel genuinely was wonderful to work with – until someone on her team inadvertently found her Berserk Button.

  109. Francie Foxglove*

    Anyone else getting flashbacks to the LW who complained about Britches Jane, who was allegedly not respectful enough when she didn’t get paid for her first *two* pay periods? And the LW who claimed that her jacket-stealing friend/co-worker was “framed” — sure, she stole a coat, but the coat’s owner must have run up all those Amazon charges herself, to get the thief in further trouble.

  110. UrbanChic*

    I completely agree with Alison, and want to provide an additional perspective – yes, in most cases hiring/firing/performance improvement should be entrusted to the manager. But there are circumstances, usually outlined in an employee handbook or policies, where an employer has already determined how situations are dealt with. And those policies have to be adhered to evenly, regardless of who the manager and employee are, especially if violations of these policies bring any potential legal risk to the company. Falsifying official documentation is usually in this category, and immediate termination is usually the result, we’re not even getting into how problematic it is that a manager using an employee’s marital status and child choices as a rationale for her decision. In this circumstance, there may be legal risks depending on laws in your state/province/location. It sounds like your company handled it well – as soon as it came out that a manager had falsified documentation, she was terminated, and then HR interviewed all of her direct report to see if there was any other problematic behavior that may put the company at legal risk.

  111. H.C.*

    One additional consideration is whether you can make it right with Jason – since his quitting was based on the unfair write-up, annual review (which may have affected raises & promotional opportunities) – I’d bring up with Manny / HR the possibility of back pay & rehire, or ensure at the very least that references moving onward do not include the write-up.

  112. Health Insurance Nerd*

    Firing people stinks and it doesn’t feel good, but sometimes that’s really the only path, LW. What Rachel did speaks volumes about her character, and that’s not something you can coach, or manage. or fix.

  113. Zircon*

    Apart from Rachel’s actions, why does this company not have a clear process for write ups which includes handing over the write up in the presence of HR? Surely that should be SOP? HR reviews the reason for a write up, reads the letter, sits in when the manager presents the letter and discusses the reason for it, and then HR hands the employee their copy and HR files the company copy on the employee file.

    1. I should really pick a name*

      People often talk about write-ups here, and I’m not really clear what they are in an office setting.
      Does someone just add something to someone’s file that says “So and so did X on Y day”?
      Does something happen if you get a certain number of write-ups?
      Are the consequences beyond being written up?

      1. SofiaDeo*

        Some places will have guidelines as to how write ups affect percentage of raise one is eligible for, employee awards, or risk of termination. These places I have seen also have fairly comprehensive Employee Handbooks. Most of the places I worked, an initial writeup was documentation of whatever policy you violated, and if it wasn’t an immediately fireable offense (like falsifying payroll records or documents) didn’t count negatively towards raises, etc. if it was a one-and-done. Used more for documenting the employee *was* aware of the policy, got trained on it (managers had to document training or whatever), and was used to negate “age discrimination” or other “unlawful firing” claims if the person continued to violate P&P constantly. Some retail places I worked early on, when still in school, might fire you after 3 or 4 offenses per quarter.

        1. SofiaDeo*

          My Mom worked for the Feds in an office setting, and it went something like this. Not all offices are this regimented.

    2. SofiaDeo*

      Some places do not have an on site HR, even if staff are onsite. For example, imagine a shift worker getting written up on site. Shift manager gives copy of write up to employee, and it goes to full Dept Manager (who is Rachel here in this example). All the Depts turn their paperwork over to Site Manager (who would be OP here, handling all the different Dept Managers on site). Manny is a Region or Area manager, for a number of facilities. So when the actual shift worker quits, HR comes in for the exit interview. The conversation ensues, HR discovers the discrepancy. Manny has no way of knowing if/to what extent the Site Manager (OP) may have allowed or contributed to this mess. Manny fires Rachel without discussing it with Site Manager/OP, because HR/Manny are quietly looking in to things. What if other Dept Managers are doing stuff like this? What if the Site Manager is in on it? And especially with Site Manager saying “I should have been notified” after the fact, Manny may quietly be watching OP.

      A single entity in one building may also be structured somewhat like this. When I was one of a number of managers in a large Hospital department, the paperwork flowed kind of like this. All our paperwork went into HR, but HR didn’t sit in *every time* there was a write up within the various departments. My boss *should* have read every write up, but I just passed them on and unless they had specific comments I had no way of knowing they read them all. It was only for particularly difficult instances that I looped my Boss/HR in ahead of time. HR conducted the exit interviews, no one from the Dept was there in those set ups, just HR. The exit ones I participated in never had any of my bosses, just HR folk.

  114. TootsNYC*

    her statement that work from home was perfect for someone like Jason (because he is single, lives alone, and has no parenting/caregiving duties) was out of line.

    It’s so out of line for her to decide for Jason what he likes. But it’s also completely tone deaf. My colleagues who are single, live alone, and have no parenting or caregiving duties are the ones who have struggled the most in the shutdown!

    So she’s not just overstepping in deciding someone else’s values, but she’s going against all conventional wisdom as well!

  115. Annony*

    This isn’t a coachable problem. She know what she was doing was wrong and that the company would stop her, so she lied. If she had submitted the same write up to the company as she gave the employee, it might be coachable. That would indicate that she honestly thought a write up was warranted for wanting to work in the office. But she already knew that wasn’t ok. What would a PIP accomplish? How can you supervise someone who will submit fake documents, especially when they work remotely?

    1. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

      She knew it was wrong – that’s why she covered it up! – and did it anyway.

  116. iglwif*

    I can understand LW feeling ruffled by Manny overruling her decision, but falsifying HR records is absolutely 100% not something you want anyone in your company doing.

    I will also note that if I found out about something like that I would immediately start wondering what other … misjudgements that person might not have been caught out on during their time with the organization.

    A person can be widely liked and still do things that they deserve to be fired for.

  117. Goddess Sekhmet*

    Apologies if this has been said already, there are a lot of comments. To me this illustrates the key difference between disciplining an employee for conduct issues or performance issues – I think the LW is confused between the two. I’m British and this is used as a key distinction in performance management here but I find it a really helpful concept so I thought I’d share. This was a conduct issue, not related to how Rachel does her job, but a specific action she took. There is no point in a PIP with a conduct issue because you have no way of knowing after 3 months if the person will do it again, because the circumstances may never arise. Therefore, you have to deal with it there and then and decide on the consequences, various levels from being written up to being dismissed depending on the seriousness. There’s nothing to improve as such because you can’t possibly monitor it over a time period as you can with performance issues. It’s also unrelated to trust because I don’t know how the LW can possibly say they would trust someone in 3 months for such an egregious action that seriously questions Rachel’s underlying integrity, and in some industries you couldn’t take the risk of continuing to employ someone shown to be dishonest and then concealing it.

    In UK terms instant firing is known as gross misconduct and most companies have a list of things that could constitute gross misconduct. Had this happened to me as a manager, unless there were mitigating circumstances such as being bullied into something, this is pretty clear cut gross misconduct and if I was LW’s manager I would be clarifying to them what constitutes an instant firing offence, that couldn’t be performance managed with a PIP. As Alison says, this was egregious on many levels and thinking otherwise would make me question their judgement. In fact everywhere I’ve worked you’d have had no choice but to fire someone who did this due to the lying and covering up – often in misconduct cases the line manager has no choice.

  118. Budgie Buddy*

    I’m glad Jason’s name was cleared. He might even have lost job opportunities in the future over this too.

    Interviewer: “Why did you leave your last job?”
    Jason: “My manager wrote me up for voluntarily coming back to work in the office.”

    Interviewer calls OP’s company to do a reference check
    Company representative: “What no we don’t write people up for that! We have a very flexible policy. Our documentation says Jason misses multiple deadlines and his output was poor…”

    Interviewer: wow that Jason is a liar. Bullet dodged.

    And Jason never knows for sure why companies keep ghosting him after they contact his previous workplace…

  119. Carol the happy elf*

    I have, in 40 years, had to fire six people by myself, without a team or consensus to confer with. Only one was for Just Being An Idiot. The rest were for character defects of some variety.

    Early on, a wonderful manager said that if your first impression is to give the employee a blindfold and a cigarette, and dance while shooting, you are most likely doing it wrong.
    The anger has a place, but firing someone in anger weakens your position. Conversely, firing someone with your righteous anger under control, can send a powerful signal to everyone you deal with that the firing was not impulsive or simplistic, not wrong or retaliatory, and certainly not unwarranted.

    Much of the time, there needs to be a ritual to the firing. For safety, firings need to be done on a Friday if possible.
    The procedural handbook needs to be extremely clear about what is absolute grounds for termination, and sorry, but falsifying documents or “double logging” is a very good reason for termination. (Rachel also seemed to be dishonest about what the employee was and was not permitted to do, by HER. “The Company giveth, and Rachel taketh away. Bad politics, Rachel.)
    In my company, Rachel would be fired, ALL of her decisions would be scrutinized, and anyone who tried to excuse her for what she had done would be under serious scrutiny as well.

  120. Susannah*

    I realize this is very much a second issue (of course rachel should be fired; she did a counterfeit performance review and the company lost an employee over it). But I’m trying to figure out why it upset her so much that he went into the office. Usually, it’s the other way around – they’re there, they want to see you there and monitor your work, whatever. But how very strange.

    1. Dawn*

      My guess – and it’s just a guess – is that she’s one of those people so militant about remote work (and I sort of understand that, I lean pretty heavily that way myself!,) that she didn’t want anyone at all going back to the office to make the company do away with in-office work entirely and it upset her that he was “advocating for the other team” so to speak.

  121. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

    LW, I’m glad you wrote in, though I imagine that the answer (and the comments) were not exactly what you were hoping for. As hard as the comments may be to read, I hope that you will see them as people offering you their perspective to help you. It’s not supposed to be a pile-on.

    I 100% do understand why you would be upset about Manny firing one of your people without talking to you. It’s an encroachment on your autonomy as a manager. Though I agree with Alison that it can absolutely be appropriate for a senior manager to step in sometimes on things that are usually decisions that their direct reports are making. Appropriateness doesn’t mean it doesn’t kinda sting.

    Is part of your reaction that you’re wondering more generally if Manny trusts your judgment? To be honest, it wouldn’t be an unreasonable fear. I’m typically also one for giving people second chances, but my first reaction to this letter was “this is very bad, Rachel has got to go.” If I was Manny, I’d have some concerns if I found out that we were not on the same page about how serious this is. IMO, lying is a huge problem. It goes to someone’s integrity and whether I can trust them to do the right thing. Manny may be asking himself about your integrity, LW, and how much trust he can have in you. So I really hope that you will take the commentariat’s view into consideration and think about why you don’t think Rachel deserved to be fired, before there is a risk of this affecting your own job.

  122. Zip123*

    Agree with the comments above re taking a closer look at everything Rachel did. I’d especially look at any write-ups she did and see if what’s in the file jibes with what the written up employee received or were told. Holy smokes. I’m all for giving people 2nd chances but what Rachel did was way beyond the pale. The only thing I’d suggest OP say to her manager is “I thought more about it, and of course you were right to fire Rachel. There’s no excuse for what she did.’

    1. should decide on a name*

      They would 100% need to check everything Rachel ever did.

      I’m 100% pro-WFH, and had to quit a job last year that bait-and-switched me on (that is, lied about) WFH, but this is absurd.

      My worst-ever manager was allowed to get away with blatantly lying about me needing a PIP, “failing” a PIP, and needing to be fired, all through fabricating documentation and lying about the actual feedback I got, all of which was excellent. Despite the written paper trail proving, very easily, that she was abjectly lying and bullying me, she was protected. She should have been fired, but was allowed to illegally fire me. They still protected her throughout the expensive court case that followed, that I won. Ridiculous.

  123. Mehitabel*

    Should Manny have talked to the LW before firing Rachel? Okay, that’s fair. But putting myself in Manny’s shoes here, it would not have been me asking LW for an opinion on it; it would have been informing LW of a decision that had already been made.

    How on earth could Rachel EVER be trusted again after a stunt like that? The only alternative to firing her that I would even consider for thirty seconds would be to demote her and remove all supervisory responsibilities. And even then I’d not trust her.

    And yes, everything she did as a supervisor needs to be reviewed to make sure that this wasn’t the first/only incident like this.

    Holy smokes.

  124. Startup Survivor*

    Manny seems like a good manager. OP, it would be worthwhile to ask him how he would fix the culture on Rachel’s team. My guess is that people are either terrified to talk or there is some version of extreme favoritism (or both). Jason had hard evidence that Rachel trashed his reputation unfairly, and still felt that he would not be able to have the situation rectified. That’s a giant cultural problem.

  125. Dawn*

    From where I’m sitting, I look at it this way; she not only falsified documentation, she not only disciplined an employee for a frankly ludicrous reason (there is nothing there – nothing – justifying a disciplinary action, never mind a full on write-up,) her argument was flat-out insulting to him, and the company reasonably lost a good employee because aside from her actions being wildly unjustified, she tried to justify them by bringing his personal life into the conversation, which is 100% none of her business, and it’s bordering on illegal to imply that a worker doesn’t deserve to work as he sees fit because he’s “single, lives alone, and childless.”

    Even without the fake write-up I’m not sure you could justify keeping on an employee who thinks it’s ok to base management/disciplinary decisions on whether someone is single or has kids.

  126. BJ*

    Something else to consider: When Jason resigned and gave the actual notice as the reason, the company was on notice there was a fraudulent write-up in their employee files.

    Had they kept Rachel on and another employee that Rachel supervised (or even Jason) went after the company for wrongful termination or some form of a discrimination lawsuit because of her actions, it’s very possible any liability insurance the company has that covers discrimination/wrongful termination lawsuits would not cover them.

    They really have no choice because not only did she expose the company to potential liability, but keeping her around *knowing* she filed a false employee write-up is asking for problems should any of the employees she supervises (at the time of firing or in the past) come after the company for discrimination or wrongful termination based on her actions.

    This liability could still exist even with her gone; I can’t help but wonder if this wasn’t her first time filing a false employee write-up. So the company really should be doing what they can to make sure all of the write-ups with employees supervised by Rachel are legitimate.

  127. Bryan*

    I want to know what the PIP would be. The employee promises not to include any false reports in employee files for the next 6 months?

  128. GrumpyZena*

    I’m quite late in the day but I wanted to offer a more generous interpretation of the OP’s actions.

    I will preface this by saying that I do 100% agree that she is in the wrong.

    I can see myself doing something like this. I describe myself as “a chronic under-reacter”. It stems from chaos and parentification in my teenage years (my parents had a very messy divorce, my mother was a barely functioning alcoholic, and I was the eldest of 3 siblings).

    This means that I basically have no barometer for “what is a crisis”, and when one happens I will avoid or minimise it. I needed to be the one who kept a cool head for my younger siblings *and* I needed to protect myself, and that survival strategy has lead to some not- great adult behaviours. I once called the non- emergency line when my 2yo was floppy and almost unresponsive. They sent an ambulance, thankfully. I’m very, very ashamed of that.

    I can easily see myself thinking “well, surely we don’t need to fire her, it’s not *that* bad, no need for anything extreme, maybe wet can just make this go away”, when that’s just not true at all, and would be a terrible way to behave.

    I don’t have any idea what is going on to lead the OP to her choice of actions, but I wanted to offer a different perspective.

    1. Observer*

      The thing is that in a workplace context, this is not really relevant. Sure, this would make the OP a less bad *person* but not a less bad and *damaging* manager.

      Think about it – you are a loving parent, but you nearly let your child die because of your need to avoid crisis. Fortunately, the people on the other end of the line were able to pick up the slack. If they hadn’t….In your case the right response is for you to get into therapy.

      In the OP’s case, that may be true as well. But from a management perspective, step #1 is to recognize that this indeed IS “that bad”. And then figure out how not to turn into the boss described in today’s letter about a terrible boss who so wants to be liked that he allows absolutely terrible behavior on the team (and is almost certainly opening his company up to legal problems.)

      1. GrumpyZena*

        Of course (I thought I was clear), it doesn’t make anything OK. But I was seeing lot of speculation as to OP’s motivations. She doesn’t have to be secretly endorsing the bad boss’s behaviour, or in cahoots with her somehow. She could just be a damaged person who has carried that with her into work.

        Yes, intentions are not magic, yes her actions had the same results (and caused the same damage) regardless of what the root cause of them is, but that does not mean that the root cause does not matter. It matters greatly. It directly affects how this behaviour is going to be addressed. It’s nigh on impossible to fix the problematic thought pattern without understanding what the reasons behind it are. So versions of this will *keep on happening*.

        I *could not* get better (by the way, I don’t need telling to get therapy) until I understood that it was the same spider weaving my behavioural web. Everything that might have been going poorly for me may have seemed like different threads, but they were all connected and they all came from the same place. I had spent my life up until then noticing problem behaviours and trying to deal with them head on, telling myself “just be better, just don’t do that, just do X” (in this analogy, snapping individual threads), but it made no difference because the spider was still there and the web had many threads.

        I don’t know what the OP’s “spider” is. But I’ve never met the person who didn’t have one. I’ve certainly never met the person who had problematic thoughts or behaviours who did those things because they just didn’t feel like doing better.

        1. 1LFTW*

          Thanks for sharing this. I’m one of the people who read this letter and was like “what, no, WTF”. It’s easy to have clarity when looking on from afar.

          But… I also have C-PTSD in my past, and you’re right, it can really break a person’s barometer for “what is a crisis”. I hope OP is able to reflect on this and figure out why they have this particular blind spot regarding Rachel’s behavior.

  129. ChattyDelle*

    LW: how do you know Rachel hasn’t done something like this before? You know now that she’s will to lie & forge documation. How can you trust anything she’s done?

  130. Uhhhh*

    I understand wanting to protect your folks, I’m extremely protective of my people. That being said, Rachel absolutely should have been fired. She ruined an employees career at the company AND intentionally falsified documents over a petty disagreement, where she was in the wrong in to begin with. I have seen people fired and blackballed for much less.

  131. Peter B*

    Some things are serious enough that they need to be dealt with promptly and in a very matter of fact way. This is one of those things. I would have fired her pretty much immediately as well and would be pretty surprised and worried if her manager wasn’t equally disturbed by the behavior. I would have probably tried to have a conversation with the manager and HR / Legal first but if that wasn’t easily an option for any reason I would have just gone ahead.

  132. Peanut Hamper*

    Before the renovation, everyone was asked if they wanted to be remote or in the office so there would be adequate space. It was made clear to everyone that their choice was their own. An employee did not have to be in the office because their manager was, and managers didn’t have to go in if they had any staff on site.

    All of Rachel’s staff elected to work from home save for one — Jason. Rachel was not happy with his decision to return to the office. He got written up for it, which affected his annual review.

    This right here would give me pause if I wrote it. Jason did nothing wrong, his choice did not impact his manager, and yet he got written up for it. He literally got written up for not violating a company policy.

  133. should decide on a name*

    My worst-ever manager was allowed to put me on a PIP that was based entirely on lies, including documentation that she retroactively fabricated. She was also permitted to use this unwarranted PIP for months to bully me, all while continuing to provide HR with negative feedback about my work, all of which was false. This led to her being allowed to have me “fail” the PIP I never should have been on in the first place.

    This was all despite the fact that the pre-existing paper trail (which contained all the real, direct feedback on my work) stated that my work was always of “an extremely high standard” and that I was “one of the strongest performers on the team”. It would take literally 30 seconds for anyone performing any sort of investigation to see that my ex-boss’ comments about my performance “problems” were abject lies, that she had insisted on telling for several months.

    She was allowed to have me illegally fired, for which I did eventually get a decent settlement. The detrimental impact this had on every aspect of my life, including my health, cannot be understated.

    She still has her job, despite this being a pattern of behavior she was allowed to get away with before and since. It costs the organisation hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, but they protect her.

    If a manager lies about a worker’s performance/conduct, especially to that worker’s detriment, you fire the manager. Immediately. If they’re telling these horrible, life-ruining lies at the direction of someone else, you fire that person. If the worker impacted was fired, you offer to reinstate the worker immediately, on improved conditions and pay, and ap[ologise profusely. Then, you get rid of anyone who enabled this toxic nonsense.

  134. Luca*

    I’m even later to the party, with one more thought.

    LW may have thought she knew Rachel really well, and never thought Rachel would ever do anything nearly like what she did to Jason.

    Generally speaking, the 2-year pandemic lockdown brought out the worst in a lot of people. And the worst part of that is, the horrible way many of them behaved isn’t how they acted under extreme stress. It’s who they really are.

    1. should decide on a name*

      Upper management in the second job was aware of the toxicity, but the change would have been too slow to save any of us who were not yet past the six-month probationary period (in my jurisdiction, this is when unfair dismissal protections really kick in legally).

      100% this.

  135. Bill Johnson*

    How does one even write someone up for doing something that he apparently had the option to do? What am I missing?

  136. Anonychick*

    Not that it matters, considering *gestures vaguely* everything else, but:

    We have no idea who did/didn’t know about Jason’s (real) write-up.

    Some of this has been discussed: did others Rachel’s team know? If so, they might have thought upper management was okay with it, and that’s why they said they liked her.

    But there’s another group that I haven’t seen mentioned: all of LW’s other teams.

    If anyone on any of LW’s other teams knew what was going on with Rachel & Jason (but didn’t know about the falsified wrote-up), it would have looked like LW knew about it, too, which could have had any or all of the following effects:
    — A hesitancy to report any problems with their direct managers: “If she didn’t do anything about Rachel, why would she help me with this less-egregious thing?”
    — A tendency to do whatever their direct manager said (no matter how unacceptable), lest they be penalized: “If Rachel could write up Jason for FOLLOWING POLICY, my manager could write me up for anything!”
    — A general lowering of morale: “Who cares/why should I bother/it doesn’t matter. It’s not like policy counts for anything around here.”
    — Probably lots of other things I’m not even thinking of.

    LW has to be able to make it very clear (through her actions) to the reports of ALL her reporting managers that she had no idea what Rachel had done. And I feel like she can’t do that without understanding that, aside from anything else, if AND WHEN LW knew about Rachel’s behavior and chose not to fire her, she would have became complicit in it. (And that goes all the way up the chain: the instant Manny knew, the instant HR knew, etc. But my concern here is how LW might be coming across, because she’s the one who didn’t want to fire Rachel.)

  137. Iain C*

    This is probably too late to beat by anyone, but I’ll try. The other comments make many good points (albeit repetitively) but one I’ve not seen:

    You owe this former employee actual cash. They missed out on a bonus because of this fraudulent bonus. If the bonus was discretionary, then the write up would not have affected it.

    Will you get away with it? Probably. But using “can we get away with it” rather than “is it right” as a standard is how your sub manager operated, and I hope you aspire to better. Your boss does at least.

  138. Fire them!*

    My god, this story is triggering. A manager once invented a problem and write me up for it. I was accused of inappropriately delegating my work to subordinates. I tried for two months to get a meeting to discuss it to get substantiation or clarification for it to no avail. It was so stressful and I was sick from it. Months later, during a review, I asked about it and the more senior person was forced to admit the other made it up. But no action was taken against the manager.

    I found another job and quit a few months later.

    It was four years ago and even though I sought therapy, I still suffer trauma from being gaslit and have ongoing fears over delegating work.

    People who gaslight employees need to be fired.

    1. Luna*

      Sheesh! Good riddance, and great, that you got away from them! Having an employee that does something like that is bad enough, but for them to not (apparently) get *any* repercussion for their action… burn the bridge and walk without looking back.

    2. Pierrot*

      I hope the LW reads this comment. Even if Jason didn’t experience this as a traumatic event, the LW should consider the emotional impact that Rachel’s actions likely had on him. If someone has a full time job, they spend the majority of their waking hours at that job. When your manager is treating you particularly unfairly, it’s a really miserable time. It’s also draining to have to deal with it while also searching for a new job. In this case, what Rachel did was very unethical and a clear violation of company procedure, but on top of that, she made someone else’s life quite stressful for a several month period over a completely made up reason.
      I wish that workplace bullying by managers was taken more seriously overall, and not just when the manager violates other aspects of company policy. Make no mistake, Rachel bullied Jason in addition to lying. Even if she never lied again in the future, I doubt that whatever instinct caused her to sabotage her employee would go away unless she did some deep work on herself (which her managers don’t have any control over).

  139. Squamous & Rugose LLP*

    Rachel is a lying liar who lies and LW is being (to put it charitably) quite naive. Even if Manny did step on LW’s toes, he was right to do so here! There’s almost an element of the oft-mentioned Geek Social Fallacies in play here, in terms of the implication that Rachel should have had a PIP by default because it’s the “fair” or “nice” thing to do.

  140. Luna*

    Rachel falsified an official record. And lied to you and the rest of her colleagues and/if not supervisors. Firing her was practically a kindness.

    And even ignoring that she falsified a record, think about why she fired this guy: because he made a decision that made *no* difference *to her*. His decision was just ‘different’ from what she wanted, so she decided to get rid of him.
    That’s already a huge red flag for an employee, let alone a manager!

  141. RVMan*

    Writing someone up for working from the office, when it is within company policy, is so over the top the only thing I can think is that having the employee in the office meant he was costing Rachel something – best case having to set up a cube for him counted against her budget that she had earmarked for something she wanted, or worst case that him being in the office made it harder for her to do something shady somehow, maybe if it made it more likely he’d see something awry related to something he works on, or it meant he might be talking to someone ‘out of group’ and she was trying to manage inter-group contact or otherwise isolate her team from communication from other people in the company, which is common abuser/fraudster behavior. Otherwise, it is hard to see how having one of your reports working IN the office would be a problem. Usually it is the other way around.

    Honestly, Rachel’s action was an immediate fire behavior it is such a big red flag, and trying to protect her is ALSO a potential open-an-investigation behavior – it suggest potential complicity in whatever Rachel was maybe covering up. LW is lucky to have a job.

  142. All Het Up About It*

    her statement that work from home was perfect for someone like Jason (because he is single, lives alone, and has no parenting/caregiving duties)

    I don’t have anything additional to add that is constructive to the OP, but this statement of Rachel’s is just so bananacrackers to me that I just had to comment on it!

    Like how obtuse are you that you don’t realize that people like Jason were actually some of the most isolated during lockdowns and many similar individuals were therefore definitely ready to return to the office when allowed/they felt safe. Or even if that wasn’t the case, perhaps Jason just has an extroverted personality where he is happier around people everyday and the office is a great place for those interactions. Or maybe Jason is really self-aware and due to personality or something like ADHD realizes that he is a better worker working from an office with structure. Or that when he goes into the office he has a better work-life balance because he can leave his work AT work. Or he has a tiny studio apartment and would like the right corner back so he can have a cat tree instead of cramming his desk in there. Maybe Jason was newer to the company and so he felt being at the office allowed him to make more meaningful connections with whatever co-workers were there, even if they weren’t his immediate team. I mean… Just WOW. There are so many reasons for a person to have a preference for in office work that it seems bonkers to even care.

    Someone else wondered about Rachel’s motivations and I have to agree. Even if she’s one of those people who felt SO strongly about WFH, surely there was something else there that made her act so vindictively. Whether that was concern that having someone in the office would uncover other things she was doing wrong, or or that person would undermine her authority or she just never liked Jason anyway… We’ll likely never know. But dang, Rachel… to date myself here: WTF, Mate?

  143. Anonymous For Now*

    Keeping Rachel on would be like having a skunk for a pet.

    You’d never know when she’d decide to stink up the place.

  144. Candi*

    I was going through the “wait, what?!” tag and found a(n I think relevant) post.

    “an employee added the F-word to a client form” April 30, 2014

    Although according to updates, it turned out be multiple misspelled words on multiple forms done over a period of time, which helped narrow down the culprit. Who tried to wave it off as a “joke”. Even though it could’ve caused her work reputation among their clients.

    That employee was fired for her bad judgement and actions as well. She did less than Rachel, but like with Rachel, she’d proven she couldn’t be trusted and her integrity was questionable.

Comments are closed.