my boyfriend’s manager told me I could date someone better

A reader writes:

My boyfriend, “Joe,” and I work in different divisions for the same company and for the last two years it’s been wonderful. That is … until two days ago when I was blindsided by my boyfriend’s new supervisor.

Joe had the day off so he asked me to grab his phone charger off his desk and bring it home. When I went to grab it, his supervisor, “Cora,” called me into her office, then shut the door and proceeded to engage in a weird conversation. She asked me if I was happy with Joe and told me that I could do so much better than him. She actually said, “Sometimes ‘big girls’ can feel like they have to settle but you can certainly do so much better than him.”

It made me extremely uncomfortable. I was so taken back and flustered. I can’t for the life of me imagine why this person that I barely know thought discussing my weight or personal relationship would be appropriate. It took me a second to compose myself enough to respond. I told her that her comments were intrusive, rude, and frankly just plain odd, then quickly left.

I was so angry and upset that I went straight to my supervisor and told her what happened. She called in the HR director, who wrote out an incident report. They were both very kind and super apologetic. I was told that Cora was recently promoted a few months ago and still has a lot to learn but this is unacceptable and she’d be strongly reprimanded.

It’s made Joe feel very uncomfortable, so today they moved him to another section but it’s in a position that is less enjoyable and with far less promotability. He’s decided to just find another job. He’s worked hard and up until this was enjoying his work life. I feel like he’s the one that’s being punished. He has never had a bad evaluation or any indication that his job was not being done well. He said Cora has always been brusque with him but he thought that was just her personality.

It’s so uncomfortable for me to simply move on from this though. I very much love my job, I enjoy who I directly work for, and I have been promoted twice. I want to stay and advance in my career with this company, but I feel like Cora has gotten away with being tactless and atrociously unprofessional. I don’t feel like a reprimand is sufficient. She needs to be let go or at a minimum removed from a supervisory role.

Joe says to just let it go and it’s not worth the trouble to talk to HR further. He’s a very easygoing, non-confrontational, “let bygones be bygones” kind of person, but I feel like there should be serious consequences for her actions. She made an egregious error, yet he is the one having to move positions. I don’t feel like this was resolved properly at all.

Joe said no matter what happens, he just wants to just move on to another company that’s a better fit for him personally. He says that I shouldn’t rock the boat on his account. I, however, am angry and still very uncomfortable with how it was resolved. Do you think I should I go back to HR or talk to my supervisor? Is this the best outcome I should expect in this situation?

It does sound like Cora doesn’t belong in a management role, but that’s not something you can really insist on.

To be clear, you’re absolutely right that she was atrociously unprofessional, boundary-crossing, rude, and out of line with her insinuations about your relationship and your body.

You just don’t have the standing to insist she be fired or demoted. You can certainly say you don’t feel comfortable staying on unless it’s handled differently — but that can’t be a bluff, because most of the time that’s going to elicit “we understand and you’ve got to do what’s best for you,” not a change in Cora’s job. Your company has presumably handled it in the way they think best, and they’re not likely to let you dictate a different outcome. (And we don’t actually know what they said to Cora. It’s possible that they made it clear she’s on thin ice and has a month to prove she can handle the position, or who knows what. They sounded sufficiently horrified when you spoke to them that it’s likely they did handle it as a serious issue and that she’s under a lot more scrutiny.)

What there is standing to push back on is what happened to Joe. The consequence of Cora being horrible to Joe should not be that Joe gets moved to a less desirable job. If he wanted to, he could absolutely push back on that. But Joe is the one who would have to do that; you can’t do it on his behalf, and it doesn’t sound like he wants to take it on.

So I think, ultimately, the question for you is: Can you find a way to make enough peace with the situation that you can stay reasonably happily? Maybe you can’t! But since you love your job, like your manager, and were eager to continue advancing there before this happened, it’s worth giving it at least a few weeks before deciding anything (or better yet, a couple of months) because it’s possible that your answer after some time goes by will be different than it is right now in the immediate aftermath (and who knows, it’s also possible that Cora won’t make it in her position long-term). Either decision is legitimate — but there’s no real path to insist on something else.

Read an update to this letter

{ 284 comments… read them below }

      1. Cait*

        The guy who’s letting his grown kids harass and threaten his workers and the woman who’s insisting she be privy to her coworker’s weight loss details both trump this one. And it’s only February! I move that we add a “Most Full of Bees” Award to the yearly roster. Applies to both bosses and coworkers.

          1. Sharpie*

            I am very glad I’d put my coffee down before reading your comment because that legit would have meant coffee all over my laptop otherwise!

      2. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

        I dunno. Probably not the top ten, but it has a real shot for top 50!

        It is sad though that something this egregious won’t make top ten!

      1. many bells down*

        Without fail every time someone says “worst boss of the year”, an even more whackadoodle letter appears a week later.

      1. Ex-prof*

        She’s definitely got potential, but she may need a couple more seasons in the minors before she’s major league material.

    1. Some Dude*

      Shout out to Cora for intruding into OP’s personal life in a wildly inappropriate way while also being fatphobic. If only she had also been racist and/or homophobic, she could have won a$$hole bingo.

      Kudos to OP for calling her out in the moment. I would have laughed nervously and then thought about all the things I SHOULD have said on the way home.

  1. Snarkus Aurelius*

    Serious question that doesn’t matter: does Cora have a crush on Joe?

    That’s the first and only thing that went through my mind. If she does have feelings for him, knowing he has a girlfriend who works there too, I can see Cora overcorrecting a bit and coming off as brusque.

    Juvenile? Yes. But we’ve seen it here before.

    1. J Pants*

      Insulting OP and telling her to break up with her bf? Cora having a thing for Joe was my #1 first thought.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        It’s a tactic most of us left behind in the third grade, but certainly a possibility.

        My mouth is still catching every fly in the county over this–so wildly out of line!

      2. Not The Maid*

        Joe mentioned that she was short with her interactions with him though, so IDK. Its so odd though that she took such an interest in is relationship.

        1. Momma Bear*

          Could be cover for a crush she can’t do anything about as long as she’s his boss. Could also just be that she’s consistently thoughtless. Either way, she was out of line and Joe needs to decide if from here he stays long-term or moves on. It might be beneficial for Joe and OP to work for different companies on a professional and financial level.

          If Joe stays, he should take a look at a new trajectory. Maybe it’s not the clear path he thought he had, but is he really stalled? Can he move again to an area of more interest or under different boss in a role more similar to what he liked? He doesn’t like to rock the boat, but he should at least take a good look at the water.

          1. Will Work for Money*

            Seconding this. Experience this kind of treatment from a boss only to find out about the crush later. It was a cover for sure.

      3. Candi*

        The moment I read Cora trying to tell OP she could “do better”, I got the same bad vibes I got off a friend’s story. The friend was friends to the GF and BF.

        That bad manager was telling the girlfriend all kinds of lies about the boyfriend because the manager was crushing on the boyfriend and wanted them to break up so her path was clear. The GF and BF worked at different companies, but she’d come to pick him up since he didn’t have a car/didn’t drive.

        The friend I heard the story from got involved when he had to play referee/relationship counselor/peacemaker. They sorted things out, and BF found another job.

        None of them ever bothered to find out what happened to bad manager after BF left. Friend didn’t tell me if BF confronted her or not.

    2. Jennifer Strange*

      I’ll be honest, when I saw the headline I assumed the manager was going to turn out to have a crush on the LW (which is very much still a possibility).

    3. ThatGirl*

      Eh, I don’t know, it’s possible – but the phrasing of all this almost makes it sound like she dislikes Joe, or thinks it’s some sort of girl-power thing to tell the LW she can do better.

      1. Sloanicota*

        Yeah I can see it both ways but my gut instinct just from what we know in the letter is that the supervisor DOESN’T like Joe (which is ultimately why it might be for the best that she’s no longer his supervisor, no matter what happened in this incident) and felt the inappropriate need to talk to OP about it because she does like / identify with OP. And because she has terrible, terrible boundaries and apparently poor common sense.

      2. Hannah Lee*

        She saw that weird cell phone carrier commercial where the spokescomedian pitches the carrier to a couple with “you can do better” aimed at the women, then disses the guy and thought “That’s a vibe I need in my life, with added back-stabbing and commentary on a stranger’s body” ?

        Because, seriously, I cannot imagine what could possibly have prompted Cora to wade in to business that was WAAAAY none of hers.

        1. Milfred*

          Or the cell phone commercial where they are at a wedding and a woman in the audience keeps saying “he’s short; he’s too short”.

          And they make it better at the end by saying: looking really tall there Brian.

          Like, what’s the problem with a man being short? Half of men are below the median height. Dissing half your potential customers seemed like a dumb move.

          1. Tobias Funke*

            The commercial is a sports joke. The rest of the commercials in that series are also sports jokes. The joke isn’t that something is wrong with Tyler because he is short. The joke is that the wedding guest is so inappropriate she is watching them measure a first down – for which the runner is short of the line to gain – at a wedding where the groom is short. Lily ham-handedly tries to explain it. The joke isn’t, teehee Tyler is short.

      3. Bee*

        I also got that vibe – she doesn’t like Joe and she DOES think well of OP. Which, still wildly inappropriate! But I see no reason to assume she’s lying.

        1. Bee*

          The more I think about this the more I think this is a classic case of “why is SHE with HIM,” where Cora thinks the twice-promoted OP is smart & competent & ambitious and thinks Joe is….not, and instead of understanding he must have qualities as a boyfriend that she doesn’t see as a coworker, she’s decided the OP is settling. Cora should obviously not be in a managerial role, but if this is the case, she was unlikely to get Joe promoted anyway, so looking for a new job might be the best thing he can do for his career.

          I think the OP should let things settle a bit and see how she feels about this company once Joe has found a new position that he loves – and once the situation with Cora becomes a little more clear. It sounds to me like the company is indeed taking this seriously but in a way that’s opaque to the OP. (Which is how it should be, but is incredibly frustrating in the meantime!)

      4. JP*

        I’ve had a couple instances of unsolicited “mentoring” from older or more senior level women in the workplace like this.

        1. Code Monkey, the SQL*

          Oh gah, you just reminded me of the receptionist at work 30 years my senior who took me out to lunch one day solely to tell me that I was unprofessional when I was talking in the breakroom and that I wouldn’t do well if I acted that way.

          Keep in mind, we had different jobs entirely, were not friends, and the “unprofessional” stories were things like how I nearly lost a shoe in the mud in the parking lot, or the noise my computer was making – not inappropriate in any way.

          She put me down as a reference when she took a new job, so clearly she thought we were far closer than we were.

        2. Ellie*

          Me too, and in both directions – other women telling me I can do much better than my boyfriend (now husband), and others who said that I am so, so lucky to have him (with the heavy implication that I am less than). I really wouldn’t read too much into what Cora said, people are weird. And its probably best Joe gets away from the whole situation at this point. Having a boss that doesn’t like him would have killed his career there anyway.

        3. not owen wilson*

          My first office job in high school was as a summer office aide in the high school office, and it would be kind to call the people working there bitter. I was once told off for coming back five minutes late from lunch and that I would have to stay five minutes late that day. I was 15.

      5. hbc*

        Yeah, I think it’s likely that she genuinely thinks Joe is a lousy boyfriend. But given her judgment, that could come from “he talks to his other female colleagues” or “he sent you to fetch his charger like you’re the maid” or “no woman should ever make more than her man.”

        1. Candi*

          “no woman should ever make more than her man.”

          My dad was told that about both my mother (library technician*) and my stepmother (now retired registered nurse**).

          He told the fossils in questions that he was laughing all the way to the bank.

          * BS instead of MLS, had been working in libraries before Master’s type degrees were a requirement.
          ** Pediatric specialty

    4. cncx*

      This was my first thought, as a big girl. I’ve had women make moves on my exes and get in a weight dig while they were there

      1. YeppyYeps*

        Pick-me girls, I believe the term is. It is a “controversial term”, but the definition of it isn’t – women who try to ruin other women to get the attention of men. Men are the goal in every situation. These women have a lot of misogynistic belief structures and can be just as damaging as anyone else who holds and reacts to misogynistic beliefs. “Big girls” are normally their first go-to targets – because; misogyny.

      2. Anon4this*

        I’ve seen this too. Many years ago friend A was talking to me about an evening she spent with friend B & some of B’s friends that I didn’t yet know. A kept going on & on about how gorgeous the male half of the couple was, but *sigh* he’s married…and well she’s nice but she’s really big.

        I was already like, uuhhmmm, that’s pretty rude, yahknow? But when I finally met this couple, all I could think was what an absolute glassbowl A was. Yes, this woman is big, but she is also, bar none, the most beautiful woman I have ever met in my entire life, and just as kind & wonderful a person as she is beautiful.

        I’ve been close friends with that couple for 30 years now, while A? I fired her nearly as long ago because she tried to get with one of my past boyfriends that I lived with.

    5. Lacey*

      Could be, but to me it reads more like she’s reminded of an overweight friend who settled for a jerk and she thinks that she can’t fix that, but she can fix this.

      I’ve had plenty of thinner friends who were pretty rude while they tried to tell me that my weight didn’t matter THAT much.

      1. Observer*

        Could be, but to me it reads more like she’s reminded of an overweight friend who settled for a jerk and she thinks that she can’t fix that, but she can fix this.

        I suppose that’s possible. But that is SUCH bad judgement that I would not want her near any sort of management role.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          Right? My first thought as her boss, besides “WTAF?” would be “what the hell else is she doing this badly????”

        2. Lacey*

          Oh absolutely. No matter the reason she said this, she absolutely handled this horribly and should not be managing anyone.

        1. chips and scraps*

          ‘I don’t think of you as fat, I think of you as a person!’ said one old school friend over drinks. ALL FAT PEOPLE ARE PEOPLE, VANESSA.

          1. Zelda*

            Well, that makes *twice* in the last ten minutes I’ve had to scrape my eyebrows off the ceiling. Darnit.

        2. Flowers*

          RIGHT?! No one says that to me anymore but if they did I would say “I never said I was ugly….”

      2. ferrina*

        This was how I read it too. Cora dislikes Joe (who knows, maybe she’s got good reasons- maybe she knows something about Joe that he’s hiding from LW); Cora assumes that LW’s ‘settling’ for Joe because LW is insecure about her weight (obviously a deeply problematic assumption on so many levels); Cora thinks she’s doing LW a favor by obliquely telling LW all this in a terrible way.

        Obviously absolutely terrible management by Cora, and I’m glad LW talked to her manager and HR.
        But if I were LW, I’d do a quick reflection on what I know about Cora vs what I know about Joe. Is it possible that Cora knows something that LW should be aware of, and was communicating it in the worst way possible?

        1. Myrin*

          I mean, I get where you’re coming from in general but I really don’t understand this sentiment: “I’d do a quick reflection on what I know about Cora vs what I know about Joe”.
          Like. Joe is OP’s boyfriend of at least two years, possibly much longer.
          Cora is Joe’s new supervisor, possibly very new.
          I don’t know either of them and I feel like I can say with relative certainty that no matter what, OP knows Joe much, much, much better than Cora and certainly muchmuchMUCH better than anyone in this comment section.

          By all means, if OP has reason to have doubts about Joe’s honesty or character or what-have-you she can investigate that but quite frankly, OP doesn’t sound like someone who’s naïve or helpless or clueless or who wouldn’t mention that at least as an aside to a letter like that.

          1. Katherine*

            Yeah, OP sounds smart and assertive. I don’t think I would have handled this situation as well as she did!

          2. ferrina*

            I’m certainly not saying that LW is naive/helpless/clueless etc! She’s clearly not!

            Speaking from my own experience- people that we love can still lie to us or hide things from us. We can be smart, capable and assertive, and still have someone we love treat us badly. We can have someone that we think we know turn out to be hiding things from us. Sometimes partners turn into different people when we’re not around- unfortunately I’ve known several people like that. There is no way to immunize yourself from this possibility.

            That said- just because one terrible manager with some serious issues and no sense of boundaries said something vague (and said it in a horrible way), doesn’t mean that anything is actually going on! I’d just do a reflection session, and if everything feels good with Joe, then definitively put it in the ‘Cora has no clue about anything’ category.

            1. JSPA*

              The likelihood that a random very new boss had overheard or found out something completely damning, vs the likelihood that she’s just good at jumping to conclusions might start out at (say) 50/50…

              But once we know that she jumps to conclusions about weight, about self- image, about the basis of a relationship, and has broadly terrible people skills?

              Then ya gotta adjust that to 99.99% she’s full to the brim with her own craptastic assumptions, and spilling then over onto OP.

            2. Myrin*

              I guess where I’m not following is why you think this “reflection session” hasn’t already happend, with OP coming to the conclusion that everything does indeed feel good with Joe and as such not feeling the need to tell us all about it (nevermind that she focused on the “work” aspect anyway).

        2. Higher Ed Cube Farmer*

          What I know about Cora: she has terrible judgment about 1. boundaries, 2.professionalism, 3. stereotype/bias-based assumptions (e.g. about “big girls”), possibly more.

          Even if she thought she knew something about Joe that LW doesn’t, whatever she “knows” seems likely to be ALSO influenced by her poor judgement in these areas, and so not a useful source of information.

          1. MEH Squared*

            All of this! Cora showed terrible judgment saying anything to the OP. Therefore, there’s no need to give a second thought to what she said.

        3. Giant Kitty*

          No, if someone came to me and said “your partner sucks, why are you with them” without spelling out the actual details of the behavior that made them feel that way, I’d completely dismiss their point of view as total BS. If they had actual concerns, I’d listen, but whether or not I did anything about them would depend on whether I considered those actions a dealbreaker or simply “the price of admission” (I was never seeking marriage or an LTR so my standards have always been a little different than those of people who are.)

        4. Ellie*

          If she did, she would have lead with that, not some vague insinuations and that jab about her weight. If she’d said something like, ‘He doesn’t treat you well’, or, ‘He’s a terrible flirt’ or anything with some teeth behind it I could believe that her intentions were good (although still so unprofessional). But she didn’t really say anything, which means she had nothing to say. She doesn’t even know him outside of work.

    6. Good Enough For Government Work*

      Exactly my first thought too. Especially since she took the time to have a pass-agg dig about OP’s weight as well.

      Someone needs to get the earth-sun trebuchet set up for this woman.

    7. DD*

      Possibly. Though it also crossed my mind that perhaps Joe has crossed boundaries with other women at work, and Cora was clumsily trying to warn OP.

      Could also explain why Joe’s feelings about it are less intense than OP’s feelings are.

      1. KToo*

        That’s what I had thought as well. Cora has perceived Joe to do things she considers not good boyfriend behavior, and tried to warn off OP. The weight comment could have been a very clumsy way of telling her not to settle. And then Joe telling OP to drop it means he doesn’t want more information to come out.

        1. Susannah*

          That’s a really big leap. And anyway, it doesn’t matter. it is not Cora’s place to get involved in LW’s relationships. Maybe, MAYBE if Cora were a CLOSE friend of LW, she gets to warn her about Joe’s behavior. Otherwise, lay off.
          And her boorish comments about LW’s weight (and her presumptions about how LW feels about her weight!) are so out of line I am honestly surprised she’s not at least on a PIP.
          If I had to guess about Joe’s response (and it’s just a guess), it would be that he’s just so uncomfortable with the whole situation he’d rather move on and forget about it.

        2. Irish Teacher*

          If it is a warning, it’s an extremely ineffective one, as it gives no indication of what Joe is supposed to have done. I can’t imagine anybody breaking up with a partner because somebody they barely know told them he wasn’t good enough for them, without giving any indication of why.

          Anything is possible, of course, but I’m generally suspicious of such vague warnings. Or rather warnings that are both vague and looking for a specific outcome. “You should end it and I’m not going to say why” doesn’t give me confidence in Cora as a source.

        3. Lilas*

          That is not the phrasing of someone trying to warn a woman that her boyfriend is skeezy. It’s someone insulting both OP and Joe.

      2. Observer*

        Could also explain why Joe’s feelings about it are less intense than OP’s feelings are.

        Highly unlikely. Guys who play games like that tend to get VERY incensed at the idea that their behavior is in the least bit problematic.

        1. ferrina*

          Not necessarily. Some people’s way of dealing with things is to pretend it didn’t happen- that was my ex’s strategy. If there was something he didn’t want to talk about, he’d pretend it wasn’t a big deal and try to get me to move to the next thing.

      3. Roland*

        Wow. This manager is extremely unprofessional, so I don’t know why folks are speculating on the situation as if she is a reasonable person with OP’s best interest at heart and not what she’s proven herself to be – someone who has awful, awful judgement and whose take on social dynamics should not be trusted.

          1. Flowers*


            Joe is treated poorly by his boss (her constant brusque tone/behavior with him)
            insulted (with the implication that he’s not good enough for his gf)
            then retaliated against b/c of the harassment complaint.

            Yet HE’S still somehow at fault? I’m no MRA but these speculations are beyond ridiculous.

        1. Mockingjay*

          Agree. This thread is full of speculation which really doesn’t apply. Why Cora said what she said, is irrelevant. What kind of person Joe is, is irrelevant. Cora was wildly out of bounds and the company immediately addressed it.

          Now, IMO the company did screw up by moving Joe and not Cora, because the transfer affects his career. As an adult, Joe gets to decide how he wants to deal with that decision and he decided to move on. Frustrating for OP, but it’s his career, not hers.

          1. Le Sigh*

            I’m not a huge fan of the “reverse the genders game” but in this case, that’s a lot of what’s bugging me here. Women have a long history of getting harassed or treated poorly in the workplace, demoted/fired/moved to another team, etc., and then have people not believe you or speculate about what you did to cause the situation/your coworker’s bad behavior–or even better, criticized for not wanting to bust down doors and demand action, but deciding to leave the company or deal with it quietly.

            Frankly, I’ve seen that play out in this comments section as well. It’s disheartening. Given Cora’s behavior, why twist ourselves in knots thinking of ways there might be a kernel of truth or a reason for it? Maybe Cora doesn’t like Joe. Maybe she has a crush on Joe. Who knows. What we do know is she exhibited terrible, unprofessional behavior and Joe is getting the crap-end of the stick because of it.

        2. ferrina*

          I don’t think anyone is saying Cora is reasonable. I think we all agree that Cora was waaaaaaaaay out of line, and we’re all glad that LW said something and that the company took that seriously (whether or not they took enough action is debatable).

          For me, there’s a slight question on whether Cora’s action had any actual underlying cause. That’s something the LW might consider, since people can act differently at work than around their partner (my ex would dramatically change his personality around different people, then wildly misrepresent events). That’s obviously something LW is in a better place to consider that we are.
          And regardless of cause, Cora’s action was absolutely wrong.

          1. Observer*

            there’s a slight question on whether Cora’s action had any actual underlying cause.

            But WHY?

            Cora’s behavior is soooo out of line, that absent any other information it is just not reasonable to start digging for some remote possibility that would really only make sense in a soap opera.

            1. alienor*

              Well, I think that’s it–it’s so out of line that the natural impulse is to think “no one would do that unless they had a reason,” and then wonder what that reason might be.

            2. Candi*

              Part of it is humans like to know the reasons for things.

              For Cora specifically, if she’s willing to try and become more professional and more socially astute*, a post-mortem finding out why can help her not do that again.

              On the social aspect, for a lot of reasons, butting into the relationship of someone you hardly know is a bad idea regardless of setting. Worst case scenario is pulling it on a DV victim, but any type is bad.

              Learning how to handle such things in social as well as work settings -including not doing anything- is important for Cora’s growth.

              I hope she chooses to grow.

          2. So Tired*

            Instead of telling the LW to reflect on her relationship when she gave absolutely no indication that she has concerns, perhaps you should reflect on why you’re so insistent to see some kind of good intentions in Cora’s actions. Some people are just mean, even women. There’s nothing wrong with reading about an interaction that someone had with a woman in a position of power and going “yikes, she should not have done that!” without trying to fabricate some reason why maybe she had good intentions and isn’t so bad really. LW gave examples of Cora’s poor attitude and judgement, that should be enough for the commentariat to not go speculating about how she was actually maybe right to do what she did.

            1. Myrin*

              I don’t even know that I’d guess “meanness” in this situation rather than a very simple “Cora doesn’t like Joe. There’s no particular reason for this, she just doesn’t like him in the way all of us have people we don’t like, or if there is a reason, it’s still very benign, like he reminds her of someone she hates or his way of speaking is annoying her. She’s also not the best when it comes to interacting with others and has boundary issues. Combining these two things with each other lead to the situation OP found herself in.”
              It doesn’t have to be complicated and I’m astonished by the number of people on here who insist on making it complicated.

              1. Grizabella the Glamour Cat*

                Agreed. To put it another way, Joe is Cora’s “bitch eating crackers.” Speculating further is unnecessary, unhelpful, and unkind.

            2. ferrina*

              I don’t know why I’m defending myself when it looks like you didn’t read my last comment, but here goes…

              I’m not saying that Cora “isn’t so bad really”. She’s clearly The Worst. LW is clearly right to be outraged, and Cora clearly shouldn’t be a manager. No one is debating that. No one is saying Cora is right, because she is clearly WRONG.

              I’m also not saying that there is a certainty or even a likelihood of anything more. But there is a chance, and LW would be best positioned to know if it applies to her. Observer says it would only make sense in a soap opera- Observer, you’re not wrong, but unfortunately I’ve met (and am related to) people who very much belong in a soap opera. In the soap opera cast I’ve been unfortunate enough to interact with, I’ve met people so oblivious that they misread everything. But every so often (maybe 5-10% of the time) they see something that they don’t realize, and that is worth acting on. I’ve also met terrible people who will use anything they can to stir a pot, and sometimes it’s made up and sometimes it’s a half-truth and sometimes it’s a full-truth that’s been insidiously wielded (these people are Sauron-incarnate). And I have known people who successfully hid their crappy sides from their partner for years, while showing that side to others. I really, really, really hope that that’s not what’s going on for LW.

              Again, not saying it’s likely. Most likely scenario- Cora got a bee in her bonnet about something innocuous and took it all the way wrong in all the wrong ways. Again, really glad LW reported it and the company took it seriously. Hopefully LW and Joe can be Cora-free very soon.

              1. Kella*

                “But every so often (maybe 5-10% of the time) they see something that they don’t realize, and that is worth acting on.”

                If Cora saw something that was worth acting on about Joe, she has not acted on it. “You can do better” is not information, it’s an opinion, and that opinion is based on her extremely limited knowledge of Joe and the OP. OP can’t reflect on whether there’s any truth to it because nothing tangible about Joe was said.

                Even if Cora “saw something” she does not have the prior knowledge of either of them to evaluate whether that something was actually a problem or whether OP would object to it enough to want to date someone else.

                That fact that sometimes irrational people take in tidbits of information that are true is completely irrelevant to OP’s issue here.

              2. JSPA*

                “Be aware in general that people you trust may not be trustworthy” is general good advice. But it’s not good advice here.

                1. it’s almost never good as directed advice (absent very clear information).

                2. it’s only potentially helpful to people who have never had any such doubt, and whom we know to live in a happy cloud of denial.

                3. It’s something that’s already covered in the letter: if OP experiences the relationship as good and strong, it is not anyone else’s business to say, “but are you suuuuure?”

                4. There are already red flags that the boss jumps to wild conclusions about human interactions. We don’t need multiple reasons, when that one, by itself, will do.

              3. Grizabella the Glamour Cat*

                “I’m also not saying that there is a certainty or even a likelihood of anything more.”

                All of which makes this hill REALLY not worth dying on, imo.

                Besides, isn’t Alison always saying we should take LWs at their word? This kind of speculation seems like the opposite of that to me.

        3. Observer*

          his manager is extremely unprofessional, so I don’t know why folks are speculating on the situation as if she is a reasonable person with OP’s best interest at heart and not what she’s proven herself to be – someone who has awful, awful judgement and whose take on social dynamics should not be trusted.

          Exactly. This just makes no sense to me.

          1. Shakti*

            Exactly!! Why wildly speculate when there are very clear pieces of evidence that show Cora to have atrocious behavior and be pretty cruel to the LW. Cora clearly doesn’t have LW’s best interests at heart as she was very insulting to her as well as incredibly unprofessional!! I would seriously question anyone’s judgement who tried to take anything Cora said seriously

        4. MEH Squared*

          Agreed. It’s wild to me how so many commenters went, “Well, where there’s smoke, there’s fire” without taking into account that the person fanning the flames was probably the person who started the fire in he first place.

          I stretched this metaphor way to thin, but all of the speculation was predicated on a faulty premise.

        5. Ellis Bell*

          The most ironic thing about the speculation here in the comments is that it’s failing to learn from Cora’s example; clearly Cora jumped to some very unwise assumptions that were none of her business to even speculate on.

      4. Lilas*

        His feelings aren’t less intense than hers- he’s job-searching! He’s taking a bigger step than staying and fighting, probably because he’s just done with the whole situation.

    8. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      Either that, or Cora wants rid of Joe and thinks getting dumped will cause him to crater faster than a PIP without getting her hands that dirty.

      1. wordswords*

        Seriously? This is WILD speculation. What we know about Joe is that LW has been with him for two years and provided no indication of any doubts or frustrations other than wishing Joe would follow up about the Cora issue more aggressively. What we know about Cora is that she’s a brand new manager who showed appalling personal and professional judgment regarding both her direct report (Joe) and a colleague (LW). Leaping from that to “you know what, Cora probably has a point, Joe probably IS awful actually, and Cora has secret knowledge!” is soap opera fanfic at this point, and deeply unhelpful to LW.

        1. Observer*

          Leaping from that to “you know what, Cora probably has a point, Joe probably IS awful actually, and Cora has secret knowledge!” is soap opera fanfic at this point, and deeply unhelpful to LW.

          This is the description I was looking for when I started reading some of this speculation.

          Soap Operas may be fun to watch, but they are NOT a good guide to life!

        2. sookie st james*

          Thank you! Some of this speculation is just cruel at this point. People act in wild ways all the time and for the most part, it says a lot more about them than it does about anyone else. Cora’s opinion of Joe carries no weight to me based off what we can glean from the letter.

          Joe not wanting to push the situation could be because he’s a laidback person *as the OP writes in the letter*, or because he doesn’t want the job enough to fight it anyways *as OP indicates in the letter*, or because he’s seen enough of the way this company handles issues to know that this is as far as they’ll take it, or- or- or-.

      2. So Tired*

        This is wild speculation and not helpful in the slightest. Have you just never met someone who doesn’t like confrontation??? It’s perfectly understandable that someone wouldn’t want to continue an uncomfortable conversation with their former boss without having some nefarious reasons. Some people prefer to just escape the drama and not deal with it, doesn’t mean Joe is hiding anything. And why are you so sure that someone who has demonstrated truly *terrible* judgement, and who LW has said is “brusque” to Joe, is actually a good person and the man is actually a terrible person that LW needs warning about?

        Some of y’all need to chill with the fanfiction in the comments..

        1. Lilas*

          This kind of victim-blaming fanfic is egregious enough (and a persistent enough issue here) that I feel like we need a one-word or one-phrase term for it (a la sea lioning, gaslighting). One that’s more precise than “ridiculous speculation”. That specific instinct in some people is in my view the number one threat to a sane, flourishing comments section/ people writing in.

          1. JSPA*

            It’s projection. Whether of one’s own issues, or one’s entertainment needs. But I’ve heard something like ickyfic, I think? fiction, and icky? Don’t know how spelled.

      3. ADHDSquirrelWhat*

        If there was something legit about Joe, Cora would have /an example/. “Joe punches puppies, you can do better” is a very different thing than “Joe’s icky, you can do better.”

        All we have is the second one. Odds on – it’s not about Joe.

        And were I in Joe’s situation, I’d probably want to cut my losses and scoot as well. There’s NO winning in his situation. Even if Cora got fired and someone wonderful took the management role instead, there would be this “but what about” sense lingering there. “what if.” Just like here. “What if”.

        Well, what if my invisible unicorn left imaginary poop on the yard? This is imaginary unicorn poop speculation.

        1. Observer*

          Well, what if my invisible unicorn left imaginary poop on the yard? This is imaginary unicorn poop speculation.


          Great analogy!

        2. Kit*

          Oh man I haven’t thought about it in years, but now I’m remembering the time our dog as a kid ate an entire box of glitter crayons. We were finding sparkly, colorful poop in the yard for weeks! If only we’d thought about your invisible unicorn…

      1. Lilas*

        What? People can be short/brusque with someone for a panoply of reasons. “This person reminds me of someone else” is like… maybe the 50th most likely reason. If that.

    9. 1-800-BrownCow*

      This was my first thought. Her behavior towards Joe and then what she said to the GF (LW) immediately reminded me of a former coworker who tried to break up the marriage of another coworker because of a crush they had on the other coworker. In that case, they reached out as an anonymous friend on social media to try to convince their crush that they needed to leave their spouse and could do better. Different situation, but similar pattern.

      1. Giant Kitty*

        I was in a similar situation, but the crush having person just straight up told my BF a bunch of whole cloth lies about how badly I would treat them (pure projection on their part), then sent a sleazy acquaintance to hit on my BF in an attempt to break us up. It did not work. The really crazy part is that the crush having person was not actually of the gender that my BF was attracted to, so even if I’d never been in the picture, they still wouldn’t have had a chance.

    10. Meep*

      Considering my former manager told me to break up with my boyfriend simply because she was fighting with hers (Surprisingly, she is a chronic cheater so it was what is about), my first thought went to Cora is just childish.

    11. Velociraptor Attack*

      We’ve been asked not to speculate about Joe. Speculating about Cora isn’t any better or any more helpful for the LW.

    12. e271828*

      That was my first question! Sure, she’s “brusque” with Joe, but trying to bust up his relationship with his girlfriend with private one-on-one counseling is so out there…

    13. Random Biter*

      This was absolutely the first thing that came to mind for me. Cora is trying to clear the way to make her own grab.

    14. AE*

      That’s definitely a possibility, but some people just genuinely don’t understand that different people have different taste and think that anyone they consider good looking should only date other people they consider good looking. I think that’s more likely if Cora has been brusque with Joe in the past.

  2. Peanut Hamper*

    The Venn diagram of people are suited for management and Cora are two non-intersecting circles.

    I hope Joe doesn’t move on too quickly. If HR and management are in any way competent, I think Cora either won’t be around too much longer, or will get her act in shape PDQ. I would play a wait and see game for now.

      1. Ex-prof*

        Yes, I remember when an associate dean at a university where I taught made a Cora-like blunder, maintenance was changing the lock on her office door within the hour.

        (She was off-campus at the time, so it must have been quite a surprise when she came back.)

      2. Snow Globe*

        She should be, but I have seen that large companies tend to move very slowly in this area. They need to get all their documentation, make sure that Cora doesn’t have room to complain about unfair treatment, etc. It takes longer than it should, so I think the advice for the LW to wait a while makes sense.

        1. Peanut Hamper*

          Yes, this. I see a lot of people get outraged when someone does something egregious like this and aren’t frog-marched off the premises, but bigger organizations tend to have a lot more cogs and wheels that have to be put into motion.

    1. lyonite*

      On the other hand, he may want to move on anyway. Aside from Cora, the company has shown that they don’t have his back in a situation where he did nothing wrong, and I can see not wanting to stay on somewhere where you’ve been treated like that.

      1. Kes*

        Yeah – the fact that Cora basically trashed-talked Joe behind his back to his girlfriend who doesn’t even work for her, he was quite reasonably uncomfortable working with and for Cora as a result, and management’s response to this is to move Joe to a worse position and leave Cora where she is?? Honestly it’s awful. Way to punish the person who was harmed by Cora

  3. AD*

    I really, really doubt someone with Cora’s atrocious judgement will last in this managerial role. Alison is absolutely right, OP — have patience and things may look different in a few weeks, if not months.

    1. Dust Bunny*

      Well, except that she just did something atrocious and . . . Joe got moved. So she’s won the first round. If management were reasonable that would have gone very differently.

    2. E*

      Agree. LW, of course it’s your life, but I want you to stay and rise! That in and of itself would be sweet revenge. And I agree with Alison, based on how they took your concerns seriously, they’re prob doing real management with Cora that they can’t tell you about

    3. goddessoftransitory*

      When you’re as furious as the LW rightfully is I can see why patience would be in short supply, but I’d definitely take a few deep breaths and wait a few weeks. If nothing else, the time can be used to update her resume and think about where she wants her career to go.

      It can be really hard to leave when your SO is working in the same place–like everything you do is going to impact their career. But they aren’t serfs. They can, or she can, or he can, get new jobs where Cora does not exist.

      1. AD*

        Good points! Yes, taking a breath will help OP view this situation with more clarity — and also see what, if any, more fallout there will be for Cora. And to polish her CV, should she choose to leave!

  4. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

    Oh man. I really want to talk to Cora and figure out what in the world she was thinking and really make it clear how effing inappropriate that was.

    I can’t imagine that she’s a happy or peaceful person.

    I’m impressed that OP had the presence of mind to speak up in the moment. That’s such a stunning and bitingly personal thing to hear from a near-stranger (critiquing both her weight and choice of relationship, both of which can have deep feelings associated with them) that I wouldn’t have blamed her at all for freezing up.

    I wonder if OP thinks she wasn’t forceful enough in the moment (ie, how she felt wasn’t fully expressed because she was so shocked and didn’t have time to formulate how she felt and say what she wished she had said) and that’s contributing to this feeling of this interaction being unfinished. Somatic Experiencing therapy talks a lot about completing thwarted intentions and I’ve personally found it remarkably helpful. It may help to do things like write her a letter that OP doesn’t send, or vividly imagine whatever OP wants to happen to her. Little bit of brain-hacking.

    I agree that they probably took more action than OP will know about, but also agree that it’s unfair her boyfriend is the one who has to move. If the boyfriend doesn’t want to do anything about it, even if it’s because he’s avoiding conflict despite being in the right, that’s an outcome OP unfortunately has to come to terms with. I imagine it feels really unfair because OP is the one Cora was shitty to (I wonder if she has a crush on OP’s bf??) and now Joe is suffering the (visible) impacts.

    1. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      And if OP experienced a shitty situation that she feels wasn’t adequately resolved, but the only resolution is her boyfriend taking action, I think there’s the potential for her to push him to act when he doesn’t. I would caution against that, as it isn’t likely to give the outcome she wants (and I would say deserves – justice, and peace) and is likely to create tension in her relationship instead.

      1. ferrina*

        Agree. Joe has standing to push back, but that’s ultimately his choice. If LW pushes him to do something he doesn’t want to do, that’s not going to be good for their relationship. Joe gets to be in charge of his career, even when he’s making decisions that she wouldn’t make. He might also have more nuances to the situation that he doesn’t want to talk about or doesn’t know how to talk about (like if he gets the sense that Cora has political capital, or there’s someone else on his team that doesn’t like him, or he wasn’t really happy in that job, etc.)

    2. Observer*

      I’m impressed that OP had the presence of mind to speak up in the moment. That’s such a stunning and bitingly personal thing to hear from a near-stranger (critiquing both her weight and choice of relationship, both of which can have deep feelings associated with them) that I wouldn’t have blamed her at all for freezing up.

      Agreed. What Cora said was utterly jaw-dropping, even in a personal context. As a manager talking to someone in a different department? I just can’t wrap my head around it. Totally props to OP for managing to come up with a coherent response!

        1. Lils*

          Same here, OP. You are my role-model. I hope I will have the presence of mind to respond so quickly, appropriately, and firmly the next time something like this happens to me.

        2. MEH Squared*

          Agreed. OP handled the situation really well. I would not have had the presence of mind to respond so clearly and concisely in the moment.

          1. Anon4this*

            Me neither. My carefully cultivated “workplace filter” would have instantly evaporated and Cora really would not be happy with the result.

  5. Observer*

    LW, Allison has given you an excellent answer. I have two thoughts.

    What there is standing to push back on is what happened to Joe. The consequence of Cora being horrible to Joe should not be that Joe gets moved to a less desirable job. If he wanted to, he could absolutely push back on that. But Joe is the one who would have to do that; you can’t do it on his behalf, and it doesn’t sound like he wants to take it on.

    This is the key. The real harm here that anyone has standing to push back on is Joe. And it is COMPLETELY his choice whether or not he takes it on. I can see why you would disagree, but from what you say, it could be that he sees other reasons to move anyway so it’s not worth the battle.

    The second thing is that you cannot expect to work for a company that does not have anyone who ever makes really bad judgement calls. And you also cannot expect to know everything that a company does in response to those bad judgement calls. So, what happened here is almost certainly not a good reason *on its own* to decide that this company is bad news or is ok with bad behavior.

    What makes sense is to keep your eyes open and see if there are patterns of behavior. Like, do you hear a lot of fat shaming talk, ongoing boundary crossing behavior by supervisors, etc. If you see that, then even if your boss is good, I would say that it would be wise to look elsewhere. Otherwise, I’d chalk it up to one of those things that happens.

    1. HonorBox*

      If Joe is already ready to look for a new job, it might be worth him saying something to HR. He’s been penalized for Cora’s behavior and comments and shouldn’t be. What’s the worst that happens? He doesn’t get his old role back? What’s the best that happens? He gets his old role back and Cora is transferred to a different situation. Or something similar. Changing jobs isn’t the worst thing in the world but staying in a position that he was happy in might be more ideal. He has the capital to raise the concern for sure… because he was already contemplating leaving.

      1. Aggretsuko*

        I was the one who got moved to a worse section of the office when I got bullied. My bully may have gotten one writeup and otherwise she is well respected, was a supervisor for a while and her career has thrived while mine is in the toilet.

        So, not surprised that Joe was considered the “problem” and was moved. However, he needed to get the heck away from her and if they aren’t going to can her, moving him is probably about as good as it’s going to get, I suppose.

      2. Smithy*

        If the OP were Joe, this would be solid advice…..but I do think it’s fair to softly push back that the reason Joe has been so quick to shift teams and decide to seek new employment may mean that Cora’s behavior didn’t come entirely out of no where.

        I had a boss many years ago who used to be very casual with myself and others at work about a lot of negative feelings he had about his significant other. This was ongoing from dating through to marriage/having kids. Prior to his wife getting pregnant he was talking about how they’d definitely be getting divorced because of how bad their relationship was going. Not only did they not get divorced but to the best of knowledge, they’re still married.

        To him maybe this was harmless venting. Someone else may have felt like his wife *needed* to know. But I could see had a Cora been in the picture and felt the need to share any of this to his wife – even if done rudely or unprofessionally – it would have just been easier for his personal life to leave.

        Maybe this isn’t the case and Joe just hates confrontation. Maybe Joe just never liked Cora that much when they were peers and has realized that having her as a supervisor was just never going to work out. But the reality is that going to HR and saying that he feels penalized with the move…..I see the greatest hope is that he’d be moved back to his team and an offer of support on how to work with Cora. Having her also be moved is likely far too punitive a reaction, particularly if there’s more going on that the OP just doesn’t know about.

        1. Giant Kitty*

          Look, I have no problem with confrontation or standing up for myself *at all*, but if I was in Joe’s position & the company did not move, demote, or fire the egregiously offensive supervisor, I would figure that this was a clear example of how little they value the rank & file and would already be so mentally checked out I wouldn’t consider it worth my energy to fight it. I’d rather put that energy towards finding a new job at a different company.

    2. Smithy*

      This is so well put.

      While I know there are some assumptions that maybe Cora was trying to help the OP out due to Joe cheating or other “very bad” boyfriend behavior. Maybe he’s just displayed boyfriend behavior that Cora doesn’t love? Said things like he doesn’t believe in Valentine’s Day or anniversaries, or that he enjoys having a partner who’s average looking because it means she’d never cheat. And for Cora, she believes the OP deserves someone who should big her up more and was trying to use shocking language to get to the OP.

      Still not good decision making or appropriate, but from the context of how a company is going to move forward – you can understand a decision to see that situation as coachable.

      Wanting to find a way to move away from a situation like this (take a vacation, Joe getting a new job, etc.) is also understandable. But I think that good companies can make decisions that kind of leave everyone a little disappointed without necessarily making bad decisions overall.

      1. Bee*

        Honestly it might just be that Cora doesn’t think Joe is very good at his job or a hard worker or ambitious enough or something like that, and if OP is very good at her job, Cora might feel she deserves someone who’s the same way. Which is not actually how love or relationships work! But it would also mean that Cora being his supervisor was a bad situation anyway.

        1. Smithy*

          So well put. Not to put an aggressively “glass half full” spin on this – but for whatever reason – Cora is not a fan of Joe. It may be for real or less real reasons. It may just be the inevitable struggles of having been peers and now becoming their supervisor.

          And in some ways, learning that sooner rather than later is never a bad thing.

          1. Lilas*

            We know that Cora expressed her opinion of Joe in an insupportably inappropriate way, and we know that OP is happy with Joe. Those facts mean that it is not reasonable to think, “for all we know, she’s got a point!”

            Even if Joe WAS bad at his job (which is not what Cora said), that’s largely irrelevant to whether he’s a good boyfriend. We do know, however, that Cora is unquestionably bad at her job.

      2. Parakeet*

        Why are so many people in these comments desperately grasping at the idea that maybe Joe did something wrong or is a bad partner in some way, when there’s no indication of that whatsoever?

        1. Smithy*

          I gather my intention wasn’t in any way to say that Cora’s actions were appropriate and could have made that point better by saying the following.

          When Cora was reprimanded by HR she explained that one of her children wasn’t sleeping and she’d been operating on poor sleep for the past week, or she was grieving the loss of a parent, or she’d just received a bad medical diagnosis. Under that stress she made a poor and inexcusable decision, she was sorry, would access EAP service and would never do that again. Even if under a PIP, lots of workplaces would take that response as showing signs she’d done something wrong and would work to do better. They also wouldn’t share that with the OP or Joe, or if they did – it wouldn’t change how inappropriate the comments were.

        2. MM*

          They’re thinking narratively rather than empirically. In a story, Cora’s words here would be a Chekhov’s gun that would have to be paid off later. Otherwise it’s unsatisfying. It’s incomplete.

          Empirically, however, sometimes people are just very strange and make bad decisions and it doesn’t amount to any particular meaning or narrative structure. And empirically there is no evidence to support the possible narratives one could spin out of this incident.

          This type of thinking has its place–it can be very helpful when you’re a social animal!–but the difference between Internet Situations You Hear About and gossip in the traditional sense is that with gossip, you know the people involved and you have a lot more context, whether you’re fully conscious of it or not. That all feeds into what storylines you’ll entertain. (Obviously there are drama llamas and credulous individuals everywhere, I’m not saying gossip is perfect and #pure in comparison–just a broad difference.) None of that’s in play when it’s internet strangers, so things can get unmoored very fast.

          1. Ellis Bell*

            Yep, in a narrative the bad things that happen to us are deliberate moves from a villain with a back story that makes their decision explainable relatable. In real life, people in power are often buffoons who make their own fanfic up about people instead of concentrating on the actual job at hand.

  6. Catwhisperer*

    I can understand where Joe is coming from, not in a “don’t rock the boat” sense, but he may have lost so much faith in the company that he doesn’t view it as being worth it to stay. I’m not sure if I would want to stay if I were in his shoes.

    1. Sloanicota*

      Well, and if the only other option – other than waiting it out to see if Cora is ultimately fired – is transferring back to work under Cora, that is not a good option for Joe. I have not found too many times when the company doesn’t back their managers over employees right up until the moment they don’t and the manager is let go.

    2. goddessoftransitory*

      I’d probably pull a Milton from Office Space if my supervisor said something like that to my SO and the end result was me getting a crappier position. (I mean, DON’T DO THAT, JOE, but I am totally understanding of the impulse!)

    3. Giant Kitty*

      I would have definitely lost faith in the company and be so mentally checked out that I wouldn’t consider it worth my energy to fight it and would use that energy to find a new job instead. I have no problem with confrontation or standing up for myself, but when the ROI is so low, it ain’t worth it.

  7. KatEnigma*

    LW, I wouldn’t want to stay at a company that clued everyone in on whatever disciplinary action had been taken against Cora. You reported it, they took you seriously and did something. They didn’t even expect Joe to continue working under her- but presumably there were only so many openings he’s qualified for, and they can’t guarantee “position you’ll love as much.” I’m assuming Cora is on a PIP or similar, but most places wouldn’t just fire her outright at the first misstep, unless it was something actionable or that cost the company a ton of money. But they aren’t going to tell you that they’re managing her out. And as I opened with, you wouldn’t want to work for a company that made that open knowledge!

    1. Colette*

      Agreed. Cora was wrong and inappropriate, but the company is taking it seriously, and the OP just isn’t entitled to the specifics of what they are doing. And that’s good – if the OP made a mistake at work, I’m sure she wouldn’t want the entire company to know the details. And while what Cora did was wrong, it wasn’t so awful that I’d expect her to be fired immediately.

      People should be able to make mistakes and learn from them. That’s a good thing.

      1. Kevin Sours*

        Nobody is suggesting that the “entire company” be made aware of Cora’s discipline. That’s a strawman and a false dichotomy. If I make a mistake at work that harms my coworkers I should expect that the people harmed get enough details to ensure that steps are being taken to ensure the mistake doesn’t happen again.

    2. Sloanicota*

      To be honest, I’m actually pretty impressed with the company doing this much; when I’ve reported this kind of inappropriate-but-not-work-related stuff about management, it rarely gets this much traction (as opposed to something that hurt’s come *company’s* business directly, which is fairly often acted on). Just my two cents.

    3. Kevin Sours*

      “I’m assuming Cora is on a PIP or similar”
      On what basis are you assuming that? More importantly, why should LW be willing to assume that? I agree that the company shouldn’t clue in everybody to the disciplinary action, but LW is everybody. She’s one of the people harmed by Cora’s grossly inappropriate behavior.

      I’ve slowly come to the conclusion that we tend to be overly solicitous of the privacy of bad actors at the expense of the people they harm. I don’t seen any reason my LW shouldn’t be given — confidentially — the outlines of how situation is being handled. Not every detail, but enough for it to be clear that the situation is being handled appropriately.

      By remaining silent you risk losing good people to protect bad actors.

      1. KatEnigma*

        LW is not “everybody” Whatever happens to Cora, that is strictly between her and her manager’s. LW WAS told it was inappropriate and being handled. She isn’t accepting that because she’s mad and wants Cora fired, even though this wasn’t something to get fired for immediately in most companies. That LW wants more doesn’t make LW reasonable or right. So yes, at this point, if LW is going to give ultimatums of her or Cora, personally I’d tell LW to go.

        1. Kevin Sours*

          Talk is cheap. I wouldn’t be willing to take it’s “inappropriate and being handled” at face value in LW’s situation. I’d want to be sure that *something* was being done. From LW’s perspective the situation is indistinguishable from nothing of consequence happening.

          1. JelloStapler*

            I get that feeling and that is a frustrating by-product of other people’s privacy being protected (I understand why people would want every detail because silence means inaction to them, and sometimes that is the case- but discipline does not mean their misdeeds are printing on the marquee outside the building).

            Regardless, LW is not employed by the company. If her husband wanted to push back he could, but SHE cannot.

            1. Kevin Sours*

              Why do we choose to protect the privacy of bad actors over the well being of the people they’ve harmed?

              1. New Jack Karyn*

                Because it’s easier to have a blanket rule: Discipline issues with one employee are not discussed with other employees.

                1. Kevin Sours*

                  Since when is “because it’s easy” the appropriate justification for management policy. There are a lot of instance where doing the right thing is harder and we expect managers to do it anyway.

              2. Ellis Bell*

                Probably because you can still consider the wellbeing of people harmed while privately disciplining the person responsible. Particularly if it’s a short term concern because Cora won’t last.

                1. Kevin Sours*

                  How do you know that Cora won’t last? There is no indication of that in the letter above. Actually the opposite — HR appears to be making excuses for her. You are making an assumption. So are the people saying she’s on a PIP. LW is left with the appearance that nothing of consequence has been done about a serious breech by a manager.

                  She is right to be considering moving on based on how the company is handling this.

    4. Jen in Oregon*

      My suspicion, based on the outcome, is that Cora denied the entire incident when questioned. She is banking on the OP and Joe staying quiet. And it’s going to work out for her, and that really sucks.

    1. Pants*

      I literally said out loud, “Whaaaaaaaaat…..” at the big-girl thing. Also, I’m fat and barely 5’1. Am I really “big?” I mean, I’m wide, sure. I’m roundish; more Michelin Man than anything, but not tall by any means. Am I big? Why not just say “fat” Cora? (We all know why Cora didn’t say fat.)

      I won’t ponder the drilled-down reason Cora thought this was appropriate. I’m just going to chalk it up to the fact that Cora is really, really ignorant. I will say that I’m happy that OP had the wherewithal to respond as she did. I’d like to think I’d have my wits about me as well.

      1. Warrior Princess xena*

        Is THAT what that meant??? I thought it was some bizarre infantalizing statement (like “put on your big girl pants”) but it being about weight makes slightly more sense (and even more insulting).

        What a jerk. Good on OP for recognizing BS and pushing back on it.

        1. Marley's Ghost*

          Ha, that’s what I thought at first, too! Like, “you’re a big girl now and can make your own relationship decisions.” It became clearer that fatphobia was the issue in the next paragraph when LW mentioned “weight.”

      2. Wendy Darling*

        “big girls” is like my least favorite euphemism. It’s so infantilizing! I’m not a toddler, I’m just fat! “Big girl” is what you say to a kid who doesn’t want to switch from diapers to pull-ups!

        And I am, objectively, big. I am somewhat above average height and have huge bones in addition to being fat.

        1. chips and scraps*

          Same. I am a big person and a fat person – above average height, wide shoulders, wide pelvis, and a bunch of adipose tissue. Anyone calling me a ‘big girl’ can get knotted. I am a woman, and no one needs to take note of my physical dimensions unless they’re a goddamn tailor.

    2. Sylvia*

      Yes, it gave the situation an entirely new context. I’ve been the recipient of similar bizarre “advice”. At some point I realized that what preceded every incident was me being confident, joyful, or laughing with friends…while being fat. Unfortunately, I think that triggers some unhappy people. So I read this situation as Cora, who is probably secretly miserable in her own life, saw LW who is happy with her job and her boyfriend, and decided to try and take her down a notch.

      I think the LW is awesome for her response! I would’ve been too shocked to say anything.

      1. Ellis Bell*

        Huh, the whole way through this letter I was thinking of a former supervisor who always whined about upper management and also made terrible assumptions which were always negative; I trying to figure out the connection and she is just generally pretty miserable. I think some people need someone to look down on or someone to despise.

    3. yala*

      It wasn’t until the comments that it even registered to me at first, because I was just thinking like “grown women” or “successful women” or something because it would never in my LIFE cross my mind to say something like that to another person.

  8. Sparkles McFadden*

    If it’ll make you feel better LW, it’s highly likely that, with Cora as a manager, Joe would have wanted to move on eventually anyway.

    It’s impossible to know the whole story. So much else might be going on. It’s likely Cora is on a PIP and it’ll take time to address the situation. It’s also possible Cora is being protected by someone higher up. That would be unfair but no one is guaranteed the workplace will be a fair place. Joe doesn’t want to push back, and this is not your battle to fight. You don’t have to leave a job you love in protest or because of some notion of solidarity. Stuff like this happens everywhere. Try to remind yourself that you wouldn’t want to work in a place where they don’t take their time when deciding to fire someone.

    1. Observer*

      It’s also possible Cora is being protected by someone higher up. That would be unfair but no one is guaranteed the workplace will be a fair place.

      No one is guaranteed anything. But it is eminently reasonable for people to expect a fair workplace (or one that at least TRIES). And it’s appropriate for people to factor this into their decision about employment.

      Also, places that allow people like Cora to be protected tend to be not very good places to work. Because it allows people with very poor judgement to flourish and pushes out some of the best people, while allowing all sorts of misbehavior and stupidity to run rampant.

      So, if it does turn out that Cora is being protected and nothing will be done about this, I think that the OP would actually be wise to find a place where people like this are NOT protected. I just don’t think that there is any evidence for it.

    2. Luca*

      Yes. I was thinking maybe Joe has some doubts that he hasn’t shared with LW yet, and Cora’s latest conduct has now confirmed them.

    3. Ellis Bell*

      Yeah, as distressing and awful as Cora’s “advice” was, it’s revealed a snake in the grass and it’s a good thing that Joe can’t extend any more benefit of the doubt to his brusque supervisor. Things coming to a head more swiftly than they otherwise would is a good thing. It’s entirely possible Cora may end up leaving but of course Joe has to behave with the information at hand. Why shouldn’t he look around at least?

      1. Tupac Coachella*

        That’s the impression I got-Joe had been giving Cora the benefit of the doubt, and then this incident clarified that nope, she really IS out to get him. As satisfying as it would be to see Cora get her comeuppance, Joe now has valuable new information, and moving on is a reasonable response to that information.

  9. Rex Libris*

    Seriously. On what planet do you, as a manager, ever think “The right thing to do here would be offer an opinion on their appearance and personal relationships to someone dating one of my staff.”

    There is poor judgment, then there is really poor judgment, then all the way down at the other end of a dark alley, there is this.

    1. NotAnotherManager!*

      You don’t. One of my direct reports, whom I’ve know for years and both like and respect very much, is in a long-term relationship with someone else who works here and who I’m not crazy about for a variety of reasons (that have nothing to do with anyone’s physical appearance). I think my direct report could do A LOT better, but I also cannot in a million years imagine a situation in which I would ever say that to either of them. It’s not my place, I’m not in their relationship, and it’s just wildly inappropriate for a coworker, much less a supervisor to comment. And to bring body size into it… I just cannot with that. Nope, nope, nope.

    2. Putting the Dys in Dysfunction*

      Nor is this something you should ever say to a coworker even if you’re not their manager!

      What Cora said was so inappropriate that I have a hard time imagining that she hasn’t said all kinds of inappropriate things before she was promoted. And that raises the question why the company promoted to management someone who lacks a filter.

      1. Phryne*

        Cora might have been holding back for years knowing she did not have the capital to speak her mind. But now that she is a manager, surely, she can give voice to all those things that are so obvious but no-one ever dares to say? Right? Everybody thinks it! She’s just now in a position to do something!

        No, I think it is very possible Cora has very carefully played her part all these years with her eye on the prize, and is only now showing her true colours.

    3. Pants*

      The Chief Compliance Officer (my boss at the time) once told me that he has gay friends that he loves very much (as they are also “children of God”) but as a Christian, he doesn’t agree with their lifestyle.

      I’m a member of the Alphabet Mafia. Learned then and there that being out while working for him was not an option. I loved working for him and I think he was a great person in general, I just don’t know how or why he thought that was appropriate. Especially with me, as I was the very well known black-sheep liberal in the company.

      1. allathian*

        He was honest enough to plainly show that he wasn’t a safe person for you to be out to, no matter how great a person he was otherwise.

      2. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

        Gawd, “lifestyle”. I really hate that term with a burning passion.

    4. learnedthehardway*

      Oh – my first manager out of college had OPINIONS and tried to set me up with someone he knew. The other person and I mutually agreed that we weren’t going to date, just so that Manager could not pump us for information about each other. (He was cute. I’ve have considered it otherwise.)

      Just one of many mind-bogglingly unprofessional and unethical things Manager did.

  10. Tobias Funke*

    OP, there is no slice of this that does not suck. The entire time I was reading your letter I was screaming on the inside. It is weird to me that this isn’t sexual harassment – someone’s boss making noises about their suitability as a partner??? Someone’s boss commenting on their partner’s body??? Someone’s boss commenting on both of those things at the same time???

    Excuse me, my skeleton will now be jumping out of my skin and running away.

  11. A Simple Narwhal*

    Ugh that’s so sucky that Joe is essentially being punished for Cora’s bad behavior. Hopefully he’ll get a much better job soon!

    And thinking long term, it’s probably better to work at a different company than your spouse. Not that it’s a bad thing or that it can’t work! Just more in a “don’t put all your eggs in one basket” where if something goes wrong at the company you’re not both out of a job. Plus some benefits get split if spouses both work at the same company, I know parental leave after a birth/adoption is one of them, there are probably others but that’s a big one I know of.

    But I know that’s not immediately relevant and is at best cold comfort now. I’m sorry, this situation sucks.

    1. Zephy*

      +1 to “don’t work at the same company as your partner,” for all the same reasons. Best wishes to Joe in his job search, and I hope Cora never finds convenient parking again.

        1. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

          I feel strong negative things toward Cora but something about this statement really doesn’t sit well with me. I’m not sure exactly why, as the Lego comment below feels fine. Maybe because it reminds me of gendered harassment a little.

            1. DrSalty*

              Fun fact, yeast infections actually can happen anywhere that is moist and warm. Maybe Cora will be struck with chronic athlete’s foot

  12. Darmok*

    The nature of the conversation and the timing of Joe being moved… Could he have been a victim of sexual harassment? If Cora was coming onto him and he rebuffed her then she has an inappropriate conversation with his partner and now he’s demoted/moved/stalled advancement…? The company could have made things worse for themselves by moving Joe. If there’s more to the story between Joe and Cora he might want to talk to a lawyer.

    1. learnedthehardway*

      That’s an interesting take on the situation – is trying to break up someone’s relationship sexual harassment?

      It’s something that – if I were Joe – I would definitely be having a conversation with HR about.

      1. Darmok*

        Unwanted advances, possible quid pro quo (if you date me I’ll promote you), retaliating after he pushes back… Those are certainly things that can be used as evidence. Not to mention the power imbalance of manager and employee. What if the gender was reversed and manager Korey was creepin’ on employee Josephine.

  13. EmKay*

    Wow. HOLY wow.

    I am so morbidly curious as to Cora’s thought process here. How on earth did she convince herself that this was an appropriate thing to do and say? I just… wow.

    1. Starscourge Savvy*

      Oh to be inside her mind for a moment or two just to witness what’s going on in there!

      Really though, the thing about people who say things like this is that they don’t HAVE to convince themselves it’s okay to say. They just feel entitled to be able to say it.

    2. Ellis Bell*

      It’s your typical 2+2=5 thinking with a side helping of not knowing your lane. We don’t know why Cora got a silent bee in her bonnet about Joe, but we do know the part of the fanfic that goes “Oh, but why would Cora put up with him if he’s really so bad… I know why!” Essentially a lot of leaps and jumps, plus no boundaries.

  14. hayling*

    LW this is an awful situation but I did want to give you kudos for being able to respond in the moment and tell Cora how inappropriate she was being. Most of us would freeze up and then come up with the perfect response later. So glad you told her off!

    1. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      Absolutely … I’d be so gobsmacked that I’d be terrible at responding.

      LW is a champ.

    2. A Simple Narwhal*

      Yes I’m super jealous of LW’s ability to respond calmly and correctly in the moment! I would probably have stammered through the conversation, run out of there as soon as possible, and then thought of all she said in the shower later.

    3. Pink Brownie*

      Or they’d become so frustrated that tears would come through, even though they were tears of anger and not sadness (happens to me WAY too often).

  15. Be kind, rewind*

    100% Joe should not have been moved to a less desirable position because of his boss’s unprofessionalism.
    100% You have a right to be angry about this.
    But 100% it’s up to Joe to fight that fight if he wants to.

    Maybe you can find peace in knowing that Joe has weighed his options and decided not to push back. Or not. But there really isn’t anything you can do for him at this point (at work, anyway).

  16. fine tipped pen aficionado*

    I don’t have anything to add that Alison didn’t already cover, I just want to say this situation really sucks and I’m sorry you’re going through it, OP. I hope Joe finds a new job and you’re able to stop being troubled by this soon. Sending all the good vibes.

  17. TomatoSoup*

    Unless Cora was genuinely concerned for OP’s safety, there was no reason to say a damn word. If that was the case, then you talk about safety not body size and settling.

    1. Clefairy*

      Yeah, agreed- and it would have to be a pretty big safety concern for it to be appropriate for Joe’s boss to say something. Like, “Wow, I went to pull a file from Joe’s desk and found his written out plans to murder OP” or something like that. Like, even if Joe were cheating and his manager were aware (which I DO NOT think is a reasonable thing to think based on OP’s account, and I think it’s wild that so many people jumped to that), girl code doesn’t trump professionalism and manager/employee boundaries. This is one of those things where, regardless of whether Cora was coming from a good place or not, it was SO SO wildly inappropriate for her to speak with her employee’s significant other in this manner.

  18. EPLawyer*

    Just wow. Interaction between LW and Cora and JOE is the punished? Yeah he has the right idea to get the heck out of there.

  19. TomatoSoup*

    But you’re not Joe and you don’t have his employer.

    Some people just respond to shitty situations by pretending they didn’t happen as best they can rather than risk the prolonged embarrassment of being a target in Cora’s outburst. Some employers aren’t going to do anything further and Joe knows that. Going to HR to make demands will only have a negative impact on him. It could be a combination of these things or something else entirely.

    Drawing negative inferences about Joe because of his not wanting to further make waves is ridiculous.

  20. Rex Libris*

    I’m personally absolutely certain that Joe has secretly been replaced by Evil Joe, from an alternate timeline, and only Cora knows, but she can’t say anything outright for fear of disrupting the space-time continuum. Or something.

    1. Pants*

      Hahahahaha! “We’ve secretly replaced this high-end restaurant’s coffee with Sanka. Let’s see what happens!”

      Now that you know I’m approximately 484 years old, I’ll see myself out.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        They all get blinding headaches from caffeine deprivation? I always thought those ads were taking their life in their hands!

  21. 1-800-BrownCow*

    “I was so angry and upset that I went straight to my supervisor and told her what happened. She called in the HR director, who wrote out an incident report. They were both very kind and super apologetic. I was told that Cora was recently promoted a few months ago and still has a lot to learn but this is unacceptable and she’d be strongly reprimanded.”

    First off, yay for supervisor and HR for addressing this right away. But…STOP. MAKING. EXCUSES. FOR. SOMEONE’S. BEHAVIOR! It’s fine if friends want to say that the manager was new and maybe didn’t know better. But HR and LW’s supervisor should NOT downplay Cora’s behavior by saying their new to the positions and have a lot to learn about proper behavior. NO, that’s common sense and should not be something someone learns as they gain experience managing. I think Cora knew exactly what she was doing and took advantage of her position to do what she did, probably thought LW wouldn’t jeopardize Joe’s job by reporting the incident. HR and LW’s supervisor should have stated the the behavior was unacceptable and would be addressed. PERIOD. Responding by making excuses for someone’s behavior is why people, especially women, hesitate in reporting incidences. When the bad behavior is downplayed or an excuse is made, the next time something happens, people hesitate speaking up.

    1. urguncle*

      Yeah, I noticed that as well. “She’s new to being a manger.” Ok, is she also new to being like…on this planet?

    2. Flowers*

      New to this position would be “oh I didn’t realize this is how we did thing and that Joe is in charge of XYZ while Bob does ABC etc.”

      being new is NOT an excuse for being a *bleeping* jerk.

    3. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      I fully agree with you. This makes me think that she’s been screwing up a lot and they were thinking out loud, “she’s been messing up” or “wow, she’s new and the role has been a challenge for her so far, but this is beyond the pale”

    4. Smithy*

      To push back gently….as others have said, I also don’t want to work for a company where full disciplinary action and HR files of employees are shared.

      I guess HR could have just said “this is unacceptable and she’ll be strongly reprimanded” and left it there. But often people do want more context. They do want to hear more, and in this way saying that she was newly promoted and had a lot to learn was a way of sharing more without sharing the extent of her HR file.

      Also, while one interpretation of “she’s new and has a lot to learn” is that she’s been making a lot of mistakes. Another interpretation is that she’s new and hasn’t had much time to do much. Bad or good, but the company sees potential that can still be coached. If six months from now, anything remotely similar between Cora and the OP happened – then I’d co-sign that all of this is lip service to make this go away.

      1. Kevin Sours*

        The problem isn’t so much the sharing but the fact that’s it’s irrelevant sharing and comes across as excuse making. It doesn’t matter how long she’s been a manager, the behavior is inappropriate. “She has a lot to learn” is meaningless without any indication that steps are being taken to teach her or that there will be consequences if she doesn’t learn. It comes across as punting on the situation and it’s better to say nothing.

        But yes, if I were in LW’s position I would want more context and would strongly be looking into moving on if I didn’t get it.

        1. Pierrot*

          Yeah exactly. It’s extremely poor judgment in a work context, whether the person saying it is a coworker or a manager. I’d have serious reservations about that person’s overall competence- this wasn’t an off the cuff comment where she lacked a filter… she was fully serious with how she approached the conversation with LW.

      2. Giant Kitty*

        Personally, I feel that what Cora did is so egregious that any discipline process that does not involve immediately removing her from a supervisory position is insufficient. Whether that ends up being a lateral move, a demotion, or a firing would be what was determined by her potential value/coachability.

    5. goddessoftransitory*

      If somebody hasn’t learned “It’s not okay to belittle one of my reports to their girlfriend and then attack said girlfriend’s weight” they need to go back to first grade, not reread the company handbook.

    6. There You Are*

      I wanted OP to say back, “Ah, gotcha. So, since neither Joe nor I are in management, it’s totally OK for us to say those same things to co-workers? Good. Because HR Person, I think you could really move up in life if you lost a few pounds. I’ve always wanted to say something but didn’t realize it was acceptable until just now.”

    7. sleepy duck*

      I’m a new manager as well but I would never in a million years make a comment on an employee’s dating life or their weight.

      I can excuse a new manager not understanding a policy that doesn’t apply to them but does apply to the employee (hourly vs salary for example) & giving incorrect advice, but comments on weight??? No forking way.

  22. Tony in HR*

    Joe should absolutely say something, as this can be seen as retaliation. Otherwise, Allison’s advice is perfect. You don’t know what was said behind closed doors. That said, if Cora steps out of line with LW again, that should definitely get reported! :-)

  23. Jlh*

    I’m appalled on op’s behalf, but she dealt with it like an absolute champ–to have the poise and presence of mind to respond in that way was super impressive. I suspect cora might not last long in post, and this might be one incident on a conveyor belt of poor judgements over the coming months. She’s not worth spending any capital on within the company, it will be a case of wait and see I hope.

  24. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

    OK, so I missed the speculations about Joe, but even if he is awful and a bad employee and is bad to OP or has said something to Cora unkind about OP or he is kicking puppies for fun, there is no excuse at all for his supervisor to call in OP to lecture about him and to make comments on her personal life and weight. Cora could have entirely valid reasons to dislike him personally or to think him a bad employee, but she is his manager, and personal dislike unrelated to professional behaviors is something she needs to rise above, and professional issues are things that she needs to address with him in an appropriate fashion. She had no business discussing it with OP, and she didn’t seem to be addressing anything work related anyhow … it is really awful that Joe needed to change jobs after anything this bad on Cora’s part.

    1. LilPinkSock*

      Yup. If Cora has an issue with Joe, she should have taken it up with Joe, not LW–and should never, ever, ever say anything about LW’s weight!

      I’m a little surprised that Joe is being punished for Cora’s bad behavior…but as a “big girl” myself, not super surprised.

  25. H.Regalis*

    LW – I want to say congrats on responding to Cora on the spot like that. It can be really hard not to just freeze up or pretend things are fine because you don’t know what to say when someone’s being a jerk; I don’t think I would have had nearly as good of a response as yours had I been in your shoes. You did a great job thinking on your feet. I’m sorry both you and Joe are having to deal with this.

  26. Susannah*

    LW I am in *awe* of your poise and strength at that moment! I am no shrinking violet, but I think I might have been so shocked at the invasive nature of the conversation and the sheer rudeness of it that I would have exited without telling Cora what I thought of her behavior.

    You ROCK!

  27. Abogado Avocado*

    LW, my thought is that Joe was moved because, in the internal investigation of Cora, management determined that she was grossly out of line and they did not want him to suffer from her lack of boundaries. I agree that Joe should not have been moved to a position with less promotability and less flexibility, but I also agree with Alison that only he is in a position to complain about that. As for Cora, I strongly suspect the company has put her on a PIP.

  28. Olive*

    I worked with someone I didn’t particularly like as a coworker or a person, and I cannot in a million years imagine telling their partner “you could do better”. There’s no situation in which that is an appropriate thing to say.

    If I knew beyond a doubt that a coworker had cheated or assaulted someone while at work, and their partner was also a coworker, I might feel that I should say something to their partner, starting with “I’m really sorry to tell you this but I felt it was something you should know”. But I mean beyond the absolute shadow of a doubt, like I walked in on them going at it. Because we’ve also had letters here where someone was falsely accused of being a cheater!

    1. allathian*

      And even then that might be risky. Probably not in the case of assault, but given the stigma polyamorous people face, most are probably not out at work. So walking in on the partner in flagrante might mean outing themself against their will for the spouse if you tell them.

      I’d probably only tell a spouse if they were a friend-friend, rather than a coworker or even a work friend, and I knew for a fact that they were monogamous, say if I’d attended their wedding and their vows included a promise to be faithful to each other in marriage.

      That said, in cases like this there’s always the risk of the messenger being shot, so I’d only be willing to take the risk for a person I care deeply about, and even then there’s a chance that my friend would refuse to believe me or end the friendship because they’d have preferred not to know. I’d rather know the truth, no matter how painful it was, and I’d really hate to be the last to know, but not everyone feels the same way and we need to respect that.

      But yeah, I can’t imagine ever saying to a coworker that they could do better than the partner they have, never mind telling the partner of a close coworker (I’m not a manager) that they could do better than my coworker.

  29. Sister George Michael*

    LW, I’m so glad you were able to rebuke Cora in the moment! In situations like this, I’m often stunned into silence.

  30. Baron*

    This is…not what I was expecting! I’ve worked in plenty of environments (mostly blue-collar and we’re-like-a-family places) where telling someone’s partner, “Hey, you could do better!” as a joke would be very standard banter, and that’s what I was expecting this letter to be. There’s an argument that that’s still not a good or work-appropriate joke.

    But for the supervisor to take you aside and say this stuff *seriously*? That’s appalling. I would not want to work for that person anymore either.

  31. triplehiccup*

    I agree with the advice to wait a bit before leaving. But I think I would start looking at other jobs right away – not in any big rush, but just so you are aware of your options and asserting your control over your career.

    1. I should really pick a name*

      I don’t think it applies (link added below).
      This was a one-off comment that wasn’t based on any protected characteristics.

    2. Book lover*

      I think the magic phrase you want here is “retaliation for raising a concern or participating in an investigation in good faith.”

  32. Myrin*

    This is more of a “meta level” comment but reading this letter, I was immediately reminded of the rather infamous “bird phobia” letter from years past, only that OP reminded me of that letter’s victim. The details are obviously very different but I still always find it fascinating when we get to see different mindsets and different attitudes from different perspectives. And I also like how Alison’s answers stay consistent (in this case, that no matter how rightfully furious you are, you can’t insist on a company firing someone).

  33. StayBunn*

    Joe absolutely got shafted, and if I were Joe’s friend, I’d want to see him fight back for a more fair outcome.

    If I were Joe, though, honestly I’d probably make the same choice he has, and I’d want the people close to me to respect me deciding my own priorities.

  34. Didn’t dump him*

    I just wanted to add my personal experience of being told by colleagues to dump my (at the time) fiancé. We work in the same field, but had never worked together before. We had just moved to a new workplace together. One day, I was filling in some paperwork and I heard some colleagues with whom I had a good rapport (lower ranking peers in an adjacent field eg if I’m a llama handler, they were llama grooming assistants ) discussing who was going to call my fiancé to ask him to do a job. “Oh you call him,” “no you call him.” “No I don’t want to call him!” I say “oh, are you talking about X?” Then “yes. Do you know him?” Me: “I’m engaged to him!”

    Horror. Silence. Then three of these women (who I have known for less than two weeks) actually beg me to dump him. “Oh no, you’re so nice and he’s so….awful.” One of them actually finds me later and whispers “don’t marry him.”

    Reader, I married him. And we still laugh about this. We have now been together a total of 17 years (10 of them married) and have 3 children. He is a great guy. And they were all acting in genuine kindness. What about his work persona prompted this?? We have no idea – maybe it was his telephone manner, which could be a bit brusque. He gets on really well with his current colleagues etc etc no issues at work etc etc, really wonderful, equal partner etc etc etc.

    This is all to say to those people who are all “oooh there’s no smoke without fire” – no, there really often is! And I’m sure those colleagues were acting with kind intent – but they knew us so little, and they were wildly out. It was easy for me to ignore them because they weren’t my boss, and their opinions had zero effect on my life or career. Cora here though, as many have pointed out, has displayed such terrible judgment, awful crassness, and revealed herself to be a horrible boss….and with only very recent experience of the OP and her boyfriend….so why would anyone pay even a second’s notice to her ill-informed opinion?

  35. Book lover*

    OP, if you are reading here, I want to say that I am so impressed that you found the words and the gumption to tell Cora right in the moment how very inappropriate she was. Good for you!

  36. Elbie*

    Would moving Joe to a less desirable position possibly be seen as retaliation? Many places have a ‘no retaliation’ policy, and I think that this would go against that.

  37. Zaphod Beeblebrox*

    Having a lot to learn about management is one thing, but Cora has a lot to learn about being a decent human being.

Comments are closed.