update: a DNA test revealed the CEO is my half brother … and he’s freaking out

Remember the letter-writer who learned through a DNA test that the company CEO was their half brother … and the CEO was freaking out? Here’s the update.

My short update is that he 100% tried to fire me. The long update is complicated but this month has been unbelievable.

Just after my question was posted, my boss “Katie” met with me and told me she was aware of the situation and didn’t agree with how the CEO and HR had been handling it in regard to the nepotism training. I told her my only plan was to forget about it for the time being and she supported that. She told me to come to her if anything changed.

Things were quiet for a week until a major project I was working on was deleted from the company drive. It was a coincidence that I had backed it up on a USB. Katie was suspicious about my project getting deleted and told me to save everything to an external drive and my hardware, and sure enough, the project got deleted again. After that, anything I put on our work servers was getting deleted within hours, as well as any correspondence with clients or my team members. I started sending all my work communication and attachments to Katie and duplicating them on a USB that Katie kept locked in her office. It was like a James Bond movie.

After a mid-month project meeting where I showed up with all my work on a USB drive HR pulled me in because “an anonymous concern” was raised about me “hiding” my work from my colleagues and tried to write me up. Katie must have known something like this was coming because she handled it and BCCd me on all her correspondence with HR and the executive team outlining her concerns about the CEO’s and HR’s behavior regarding the DNA results and that she believed someone was remotely accessing my work computer to delete things. The company VP was horrified. Up until this point, I didn’t know CEBro wasn’t the owner of the company.

Katie and I had a call with the VP that day, who assured me that the owners were being made aware of the situation and that my job was not in jeopardy. The VP also apologized for the write-up attempt and the fact someone was obviously remotely accessing my work hardware. That was on a Friday, and my attempted firing was the following Monday.

CEBro’s mom contacted Dad on the homefront as all this was happening at work. I won’t get into what was said but the gist is Dad was set up as an unwitting donor for a childless couple. As a family we decided to support Dad and just drop it because we didn’t ask for the complete Jerry Springer package, we just wanted to know what part of Ireland Grandma was from.

The Monday after Dad spoke to CEBro’s mother, I was walking through the lobby when HR literally ambushed me and loudly fired me in front of a client and like twenty of my colleagues. Security escorted me out in front of my friends and colleagues who had no idea what was happening so that was pretty dark and humiliating. Katie stopped me on the way to my car and brought me back in for a video call with her, the VP, and the owners of the company. I explained what had happened since I got my DNA results back, the nepotism training, and editing as much of the personal stuff as I could for my Dad’s sake but the whole thing was humiliating. I was unfired but asked to turn in my badge, as both CEBro and I were suspended pending a full investigation by the owners and their lawyer. I was suspended with pay, which HR vehemently protested against. The suspension lasted a week and I had planned to spend that time looking for another job but I just didn’t have it in me.

CEBro did not return after the suspension. I was offered my job back with an apology but I opted not to go back either and have been freelancing and taking some downtime because the last month has sucked. I did accept a generous severance package, so at least they tried to do the right thing.

While some of this sounds flippant, there have been a lot of tears and stress and freaking out because this was a LOT. I don’t like being under a microscope at work or feeling like I’m “in trouble” so it was really increasing a lot of anxiety. I was also hurt because I loved that job and my team and being marched out by security felt awful. Dad feels guilty this turned into me almost losing my job, but none of this is his fault at all. In all of this, I have to say the people I resent the most in this situation were the two goblins in HR who knew they were doing the wrong thing every step of the way and openly enjoyed the drama of it all. Rumors have reached me that both the people in HR are connected with CEBro in some way — like former college friends or exes or something. I wish them the future they deserve.

{ 542 comments… read them below }

  1. Barbarella*

    Wow. I am sorry you had to go through all that. I wish you and your family the futures you deserve, as well. ;)

      1. Brian the Brian*

        I am 100% going to start using this, or perhaps an alternative (“I wish them the future they have earned”) when warranted. Such a good line.

        1. Pants*

          I use it a lot. “May you get everything you deserve in life.”

          It’s way more satisfying than “bless your heart.”

      2. Momma Bear*

        How very Ever After of OP.

        Sorry about how it all went down for OP. I hope that they are able to regroup and maybe going freelance was the best choice for now. I wouldn’t want to be at a company where they thought it was appropriate to fire you in public, even if the person did something wrong (which doesn’t apply here, of course). The HR goblins sure had a field day with this.

    1. Random Dice*

      Echoing this. I’m so sorry you were treated so horribly by three VERY horrible people.

      You seem like an utter delight, and I’m so proud of you – and of Katie! – for the utter professionalism and courage and integrity this incident has revealed about you.

      1. Lefty2233*

        Agree. Posts like this upset me so much. As an HR professional it makes me sick that people will behave so terribly and in such a flagrant and obnoxious way. They obviously had prioritized the CEBro over the well being of the employee or even the company.

      2. Paloma Pigeon*

        Second this. So sorry you went through this, so sorry for the strain on your family, and better things will come your way, but shout out to Katie for keeping a cool head and standing up for you.

    2. tamarack etc.*

      Yeah good lord. This guy (CEOBro) literally needed to do *nothing* to avoid all this. At least he was revealed to be unsuited to the CEO role in a major way.

      All the best to the OP – hope the freelancing works out. If the leadership team *really* cleans out the stable there they might ask them on their knees to come back… :/

      1. Vio*

        Makes me think he had something to hide already, that he was so paranoid about possible nepotism accusations. Perhaps he worried that his favourite friends getting cushy HR jobs would come under the microscope if someone looked into whether his newly discovered relative was getting special treatment so he hoped to push him out? Or maybe he’s just a few buildings short of a brick.

  2. 123456789101112 do do do*

    This update has turned me into Mama Bear mode, equal parts wanting to go into full-throttle warfare on your behalf and wanting to wrap you in a big hug while saying, “Oh, you poor sweetie, I’m so sorry that this happened to you.” This is all so unfair and horrible. I wish you the very best and hope that everything gets better for you soon.

    1. Tio*

      Every once in a while I have this reaction to a let and my blood pressure just skyrockets lol! Most recent one was the one where someone’s weight gain was “triggering” a wannabe health coach and I just wanted to march over to that office and give that lady a good dressing down!

      1. Troutwaxer*

        I still want an update on that one!

        And thanks for this update too – the situation puts me into Older Bear mode just like Tio!

    2. TheHR Nimrod*

      I feel exactly the same way!

      OP, I am so sorry this has happened to you.

      Since Internet Hugs aren’t the most effective thing in the world, can the commentariat help you source a better job?

    3. Festively Dressed Earl*

      I’m wanting to zap LW into a lounge chair in the sunshine and give her the entire pan of strawberry lemon blondies I just made.

    4. Ellie*

      You should really consult with a lawyer OP. You deserve compensation for what happened to you. I can’t imagine your severance covers being humiliated like that in front of your friends and peers.

        1. Willow Pillow*

          I left a job of a decade+ due to persistent, illegal discrimimation, and I got a considerable severance with those terms. I’m not even legally allowed to discuss what happened publicly.

          1. Troutwaxer*

            I’m definitely curious about the severance package, but I guess I’ll just have to let it go.

            1. Willow Pillow*

              Let’s just say the lawyer I consulted to review it said it was worth taking and not entering a lengthy legal battle (where I’d likely get less after a multi-year fight).

      1. Federal employee drone*


        Cuz I guarantee CEBro got weirded out imagining how HE would have taken advantage of the situation.

    1. SAS*

      This is honestly one of the most shocking letters to me since the guy that ghosted his partner who became his boss.

      1. Pdxer*

        I was personally getting the “coworker stole my lunch, got sick and tried to get me fired” vibes off this one. This absolutely belongs in the “wait…what?” section.

  3. Skippy*

    What became of that law against discrimination based on genetic information? OP, did you have to waive y you’re right to sue as part of the severance?

    1. Autumnheart*

      IANAL but I don’t believe a contract can demand that you waive your legal rights.

      1. Tio*

        You can, for the most part. Most severance claims include something like this, as do most settlements and arbitrations.

        1. Carl*

          Didn’t the court just change this? I remember a CNN headline a few weeks ago but not my area of the law so paid little attention.

          1. Dilly*

            The recent ruling was that severance agreements couldn’t require that you not bad mouth the company and keep quiet about severance terms. And it was from the National Labor Relations Board and not the court.

    2. Tio*

      Probably they waived, but if not, the genetic discrimination, defamation for the perp walk, and emotional distress.

      1. Miette*

        And there’s not going to be anything in it to prevent OP going after CEBro directly. That’s what I’d be doing.

      1. Skippy*

        Yeah, if I were the company’s lawyer I would have put that in–but I’d still be holding my breath in fear that OP would find some legal grounds to sue or make it a criminal matter (and of course anyone can always sue for anything; whether they prevail depends, but it’s probably worth talking to a lawyer IMHO).

      2. JSPA*


        But a quick google suggests that only enumerated legal topics are fully binding, and that certain rights can’t be signed away. I’ll drop in a random relevant legal / lawfirm website as a reply to my comment. Basically, it looks like it IS worth the OP reading their agreement carefully.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              Yeah, they said the agreements can’t contain confidentiality or non-disparagement clauses (so wouldn’t affect the legal release of claims that we’re talking about here) but it’s also likely to be overturned.

              1. Cool Tina, Train Conductress*

                Ohhhhhhhhhhhh. I wondered why my settlement/severance agreement had a weak non-compete clause but not a non-disclosure or non-disparagement clause.

          1. Escapee from Corporate Management*

            And it’s the reason some of those packages are so large (which I hope was the case for OP). A very generous settlement is still more cost-effective than damaging publicity. That’s been abused (see Weinstein, Harvey), but in this case, it makes sense.

          2. I AM a Lawyer*

            Yes, I have drafted many of them, and it’s the what the employer receives in consideration for the severance payment. We make them as broad as possible (in my state, there are certain rights that can’t be waived by settlement agreement, but most can).

            Honestly, since they offered her the job back and she didn’t lose any pay, her damages would be pretty minimal as far as the GINA claim. (Emotional distress claims are pretty difficult to win on, also.)

            1. MK*

              I think people are so used to hearing about huge sums for damages in the media, that they assume anyone suing successfully gets millions.

              1. MassMatt*

                I would go further and say some organizations act so paranoid about being sued for firing even blatantly bad employees that people assume that many suits end with big settlements.

                1. Splendid Colors*

                  My landlord keeps talking about how they can’t do X or Y because a tenant sued them and now we can’t have nice things. I have searched the court records, and have not found any filings resembling anything about X or Y. (I’m presuming that if they settled, the original complaint would still be in the system?) For example, they used to have gift cards as bingo prizes. Now it’s a basket of dollar store cleaning supplies (which will damage our counters and bathtubs). They said a tenant sued the management company because they didn’t win the gift card, and the lawyers said that meant they couldn’t use gift cards as prizes. The only suits I found against the company were for things like slip & fall, constructive eviction, and a dead tree falling on a contractor’s truck.

            2. Stephanie in Scotland*

              Would OP have a leg to stand on if they decided to sue CEBro and the HR goblins as individuals, rather than the company?

              1. Princess Sparklepony*

                I’m wondering how the HR goblins kept their jobs after messing this up so spectacularly. They seem to have been pushing the firing for their buddy CEBro.

            3. Troutwaxer*

              “I met a new family member and they immediately went psycho!” If I were on jury I’d give the OP an award!

              Also, “Dad was manipulated into being an unwitting sperm donor for a childless couple” (I probably didn’t quote that perfectly.) It sounds like the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree! On the subject of a severance payment, when my company laid off all the full-time llama groomers, then brought them back as part-time I got in the very low five-figures, which was approximately 16 percent of my annual pay. I’m assuming that the OP got considerably more!

              1. SpaceySteph*

                Can someone explain this “unwitting sperm donor” part. How did the sperm end up where it did (i.e. as half of CEBro) without him knowing?!

                1. Beebis*

                  My assumption of the situation: LW said Dad was stationed in Texas. The guy CEBro thought was his dad is infertile and they really wanted a baby, so their solution was to have mom have a fling with a military guy that didn’t know about the husband so they could pretend CEBro’s dad was the bio dad

                2. DD26*

                  The first thing that came to my mind was the Heart song “All I want to do is make love to you” as this is pretty much the song.

        1. Attorney*

          Generally the rights you can’t waive are the rights to participate in a state or federal agency process (like with the EEOC). But those proceedings are separate from a lawsuit and companies can, and do, ask employees signing severance agreements to waive the right to receive any individual compensation if they do participate in an agency proceeding.

      1. Splendid Colors*

        Refusing to hire someone with a 99% genetic probability of getting some expensive disease because it’ll run up the health insurance premiums is more what the law had in mind.

        (Also a good argument for nationalized insurance that isn’t tied to your workplace.)

    3. raincoaster*

      Probably had to waive the right to sue the company, but not necessarily also the CEBro. Which is where I’d go with a lawsuit here.

        1. All Het Up About It*

          The two in HR!!!

          I honestly think those are the two I’m most angry at… Like it is literally your JOB to make sure that people’s personal feelings and situations are not influencing their decisions and instead they acted like a couple of middle-schoolers with mob mentality, because their friend/ex was in a really weird situation.

          I honestly hope they are properly disciplined/let go as well.

  4. COBOL*

    OP, totally get if you can’t bring yourself to go back to that job, but it might be worth re-examining. You have a manager who has your back like none other, owners who gave you absolute equal setting as the CEO, and if you love(d) what you were doing.

    The longer you’re there, the more people will see this for what it was, a weird vendetta from the former CEO, and (hopefully former) HR.

      1. JSPA*

        This, plus… it’s easy to discount the triggering effect of being in a place where something really intense happened, unless and until it happens to you. Walking in the door and smelling the same smells and seeing the same details…it can be a lot.

        You can set the loveliest table and fill it with delicacies and play soothing music, but if it’s surrounded by raw sewage, none of that matters.

        Maybe OP could WFH on contract, so as to keep working with the good coworkers… but if it feels better not to, then that’s just how it is.

        I do wonder if it might be possible to sue the CEO as an individual, as he was clearly acting as a rogue actor, not on the behalf of the company??? I have a hard time imagining that the company would feel like wasting a lot of paperwork or legal fees on his behalf.

        1. Goldenrod*

          “You can set the loveliest table and fill it with delicacies and play soothing music, but if it’s surrounded by raw sewage, none of that matters.”

          Agreed. At this point, I think OP should take the money and run!

      2. TVProf*

        How are those two still employed? Did they figure out who was accessing and erasing your work?

        ALL those people should be getting fired, no severance.

        1. redflagday701*

          TVProf: Seriously! I feel like the HR goblins were worse offenders than the CEO simply because part of their job is — ostensibly, at least — to protect the company from people doing wild bullshit. I have trouble understanding how the owners could possibly trust them going forward. (Honestly, I have trouble understanding how the owners aren’t incandescent with rage over what the goblins did.)

          1. Troutwaxer*

            My guess is that the HR goblins are on their way out, but first, the company can’t talk about how they’ll be disciplined, and second, they’re probably needed until new HR goblins can be hired. Also, being very nasty goblins they may have hidden information or might have blackmail material.

          2. Princess Sparklepony*

            Yes, +1000.

            People were talking mama bear mode, I’d be in Cocaine Bear mode regarding those HR goblins.

      3. SHEILA, the co-host*

        Same. CEBro is bad, but the HR goblins were enabling his behavior as well as egging on the drama. Unless they’re gone, I would not be interested in going back, and I’d be actively encouraging Katie and others to leave.

        1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          Yeah – the HR Goblins would be my breaker here as well. They are the HR department, and they pulled all that crap – the rest of my immediate team may be great, but how am I supposed to trust HR to get anything right after this clusterfudge series of actions?

          Hoping the severance also included what will be said about OP in any future reference calls (or better maybe just go directly to your awesome immediate manager there.

      4. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        That’s what I am thinking too. Agree that Katie is great! But why did the two HR people suffer no consequences?

        1. JSPA*

          With two, there’s a better chance of some CYA moves working, plus they could blame CEBro, plus who knows what he said, or what they said he said…so they may have to (at least) go through a PIP process, if there’s no crystal clear proof that they knew how shady it all was.

          1. Fishsticks*

            Yeah, my bet is that the HR Goblins protected each other and threw CEOBro under the bus. Which, he deserved to be there, he just should have had them with him.

      5. Mangled Metaphor*

        Out of a cannon into the sun would be a good start.

        There’s a great deal of overhauling to be done before considering a return would be sensible. Sounds like Katie was a silver lining, but those can be very thin compared to the cloud cover.

    1. FrivYeti*

      The problem is, the HR people are still there, and based on prior actions they’re likely to completely fail to see that this situation was their fault and go on the offensive.

      And yeah, in the long run OP will win that fight, but it’s a lot of stress and a lot of mess and there’s no guarantee that it will be quick.

        1. Be kind, rewind*

          Good point. She just lost a good employee over this crap. She must be very upset and demoralized, as well.

        2. Random Dice*

          Katie is my new managerial role model.

          Katie knew she was most likely putting herself on the firing block by INSISTING on justice and – somehow miraculously instead getting the CE- flippin-O fired.

          I mean the sheer protective integrity-filled mama bear AWESOMENESS of Katie has me in awe.

          1. Candi*

            We need more Katies in management. She was wonderful.

            This whole mess wasn’t your fault, OP.

            The CEO decided to act like a temperamental brat, and the HR people like mean girls in high school. That’s on them, not you.

            I hope life goes well for you. Best wishes.

          2. Ama*

            I actually really needed to hear about Katie today because I’m fighting my senior management over a policy that I feel is unintentionally punishing my direct report for a life circumstance she can’t do anything about. If she can do this much for OP, taking a meeting with my CEO to explain my concerns about a policy that wasn’t intended to drive my report out but might end up having that effect is small potatoes.

      1. TG*

        The HR folks should 100% be fired as well as that’s not what you do and you have a great case to sue them and CEOBro! Your VP did all the right things and I’m glad at least you were informed and given a generous severance – that is the LEAST they could do!

      2. Bluebird*

        Katie does sound amazing, while I am so sorry this happened to you OP, I am so glad you were lucky enough to have Katie standing behind you. Hopefully she can continue to be a good connection for you!

    2. learnedthehardway*

      This is a very good point. But I agree with the wanting the HR goblins (great description of them) being let go before I would return.

    1. Tio*

      It’s possible LW released their right to sue as part of the severance, but if not, absolutely sue, this story is like wtf.

      1. yala*

        I wonder if they could just sue CEbrO as a person, not as a company thing, for his shenaniganery

        But that’s just the petty part of me

        I don’t blame OP for just wanting the whole thing DONE.

      2. Observer*

        I doubt he could win anything from the company.

        The CEO was clearly not acting in the company’s best interest or their perceived or implied expectations. And as soon as they found out what was going on they acted, and acted appropriately.

        1. Miri*

          Excuse me? HR firing the OP after learning of the situation was certainly not acting appropriately.

          1. AppleStan*

            I believe Observer is referencing the bigwigs at the Company (VP, etc.), NOT the HR people.

            1. Observer*

              Exactly. VP and Owners acted promptly when Kate informed them of what was going one. And they fired CEBro in a week.

        2. Anonymoustoast*

          Did they? Firing her in front of 20 colleagues and a client is pretty reputation-damaging, even if they attempted to walk it back later.

          1. Observer*

            That’s the thing – the VP and Owners were not the ones who pulled that stunt. When Kate jumped and called them, they reacted appropriately. That tends to insulate the business.

            1. NotALawyerButIWillBeNextYear*

              Nope. A business is in fact liable for the stunts its employees pull if they were acting in the “scope and course” of the business. This is true even if they were doing things the business never told them to do, that the business wouldn’t have wanted them to do, and that actually hurt the business. For instance, if the employee of a carwash beats up a customer who wants to leave without paying full price, the carwash is liable for battery even if the owner is a notorious pacifist who has instituted a no-fighting policy and who immediately helped the victim up and gave him an ice pack.
              There are policy reasons for this rule, even if it doesn’t seem “fair.” Namely, that allowing businesses to evade liability by claiming they didn’t know what their employees are up to would give them a get-out-of jail free card which they would use constantly whether it was true of not. Further, it would incentivize businesses to actually monitor employees as little as possible, while possibly giving the employees incentive to misbehave. I.e.: “These are results I want, Larry, and I don’t really want to hear how you get there.” Generally that would not be a good thing. Also, we generally think that businesses should be liable for the harm they cause just by existing because, unlike people, they don’t have to exist. People with sufficient capital and other advantages come together and create businesses deliberately so that they can profit and we think that when they do that they need to take responsibility for even unintended bad results. They need to bake this into their business planning (like by doing their best to control employees and also getting insurance) or be sued out of existence.

            2. Candi*

              “Respondeat Superior” -let the master answer.

              It’s a legal term I learned way back when I took a unit/ward clerk class, where the LPN teaching it was telling us that if WE got up to shenanigans, the hospital we were working at could get in trouble for them. And then they’d get on *our* cases.

              It is a “legal doctrine according to which an employer is responsible for the actions of its employees performed during the course of their employment.” While that’s from the Encyclopedia Britannica, it exists in US law as well.

  5. SQL Coder Cat*

    Well, this update definitely did not go as I was hoping…

    I am so sorry you went through this OP. I am glad your former company at least gave you a generous severance package, but the whole situation must have put an unbelievable amount of stress on you. I can understand not wanting to go back after an experience like that. I hope you have someone to talk to about this and help you process. I hope your next position will be wonderful and drama free.

    1. ferrina*

      Yes, definitely. I’m so sorry it turned out how it did. I’m glad the manager backed you and advocated for you, and I’m glad the company tried to do the right thing and gave you a good severance so you can recuperate. That sounds like such a hellish ordeal.

  6. Pinacolada*


    I think we have an early contender for Worst Boss of the Year, lol.

              1. chips and scraps*

                I got all of them except this one – who’s Sheila? Please let there be a whole AAM thing I don’t yet know about.

      1. Pinacolada*

        Yikes on Bikes! I just realized I do not use this term nearly enough. Rectifying immediately!

      2. Rivakonneva*

        I’m sorry, but I don’t get the ‘yikes on bikes’ reference. Can you link to the original letter/comment?

        In better news, I did get all the others. Especially the cheap-ass rolls! :)

        1. Anonymous cat*

          I might be wrong but I think the appeal is that it rhymes. It’s a funny way to “increase” the yikes.

    1. Essentially Cheesy*

      I’m not sure that worst “boss” necessarily applies as boss Katie was a rock star and did what she could.

      Now the CEObro was/is a whackadoodle and wins for worst management of the year in my eyes.

          1. JSPA*

            Seriously. As this is a work blog, I suppose we have to not get into the whole can of worms of intentionally using someone as an “unwitting sperm donor.” And then confirming that to their face, decades later. But…yeeesh.

            1. GreyjoyGardens*

              Yeesh is right. That’s bananapants. And I don’t know about “criminal,” but at the very least, unethical and immoral. I am guessing that CEO-Bro did not grow up in a fine, upstanding, moral environment.

              LW, wishing you the best no matter what path you choose. And yes, may the HR goblins get their just desserts.

              1. SHEILA, the co-host*

                That’s an angle I had neglected, but such a good point. People who do the kinds of things CEBro’s mother did usually don’t have just one spectacular ethical lapse – it’s often part of a pattern. So yeah, CEBro’s own actions and dysfunctional behavior are probably very much influenced on his mom’s approach to “problem solving.”

                1. SHEILA, the co-host*

                  Which is not to say he’s not responsible for his actions. He is. Especially as he is an adult.

                2. Random Dice*

                  I’m not down with putting the infertile Texan couple down as the villains. I’m not sure there is a villain decades ago in Texas – though plenty in the modern day.

                  I’m really leery of saying that a grown man who freely CHOOSES unprotected sex is being taken advantage of when he impregnates someone. He’s an adult, he knows how sex and pregnancy and lack of condoms work.

                  But I’ll freely admit that I get rage at the ways patriarchy lets men fork with abandon and saddles women who earn a fraction of the salary with the bill… and maybe that’s shading my reaction.

                3. JSPA*

                  Responding to Random Dice

                  without going into details, there are ways to get an unwitting sperm donor’s “donation” after protected sex. Or during, by pre-perforating a condom. (Yes, one should check them in strong light, both before opening, and after opening, before unrolling.) Then there’s the gray zone of bad information that you probably should not believe, but some people lie really well: I’m pregnant already / I’m sterile / I just had my period, whatever.

                  We really don’t know the details, and “trust the reporting of the OP” means we’re going to trust that CEBro’s mom understood OP’s dad to be unwitting (and thus possibly unwilling to procreate) but went ahead anyway.

            2. Amyll*

              Am I the only person who keeps hearing Ann Wilson singing Heart’s hit “All I want to do is make love to you”? The POV is CEOBro’s mom.

              1. Autumn*

                Reportedly she hates the song and won’t sing it in concert, she thought it was awful but was pushed to record it anyway. Then it went up the charts and she was really annoyed!

      1. Pinacolada*

        I believe Elon Musk won for 2022 (or was at least a top contender) so I think the term “boss” in this competition is used for management at all levels. :)

    2. Essentially Cheesy*

      I’m not sure that worst “boss” necessarily applies as boss Katie was a rock star and did what she could.

      Now the CEObro was/is a whackadoodle and wins for worst management of the year in my eyes. Shame on him to the max.

      1. Pinacolada*

        I believe Elon Musk won for 2022 (or was at least a top contender) so I think the term “boss” in this competition is used for management at all levels. :)

    3. The Eye of Argon*

      I’ve often thought we should have a Worst Company to Work For contest. CEBro and his HR henchmen would make this one a contender.

    4. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I almost never agree when people say that (there always end up being worse bosses) but in this case I would be shocked if this one wasn’t highly competitive.

      1. Putting the Dys in Dysfunction*

        The competition for worst boss has been so intense in recent months that we really ought to find a way to recognize more of them. How about having categories, as in the Academy Awards?

        o Most heartless boss
        o Most clueless boss
        o Most bizarre boss
        o Most cowardly boss
        o Biggest micromanager
        o Most abusive boss

        Etc., etc.

        1. WillowSunstar*

          Plus that way if Elon gets in again, which he may, he doesn’t wind up taking home the only award.

          1. Bah humbug*

            Maybe we should put Elon in his own category and reverse the way the voting works. For the Elon award, we vote on his craziest act of the year. Then all the other awards exclude him completely. After all, he is truly in a class of his own…..

      2. SBT*

        Alison – do you keep a folder of contenders throughout the year so you don’t have to try and remember all of them at the end of the year?

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          In November, I go through every post from the year to choose worst boss contenders and also my favorite posts (since I usually do an end-of-year round-up of favorites). But I do flag some of the most egregious like this one throughout the year on top of that.

          1. Trillian (the original*

            I propose another category for your consideration: “HR from Hell”.

    5. Hi, I'm Troy McClure*

      If this is only March, I can’t imagine what the rest of the year has in store! We’ve already had some doozies, and it’s not the easiest time to be a working person.

    6. coffee underachiever*

      OP’s boss was pretty cool, actually. It’s HR that needs to take a hike.

    7. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      Yeah, people usually say “too soon to call” and “there will be worse ones”, but this guy needs to be in the running. OP did absolutely nothing to provoke him, other than… upload DNA test results to a DNA site? Not a fireable offense last I checked.

      1. Martin Blackwood*

        Theres, what, four polls, eight bosses? Thats about one contender every six weeks. We’re on time to have a top contender.

    8. lyonite*

      What I don’t get is, why? I could kind of understand the initial response, where he might have been thinking the OP was going to use the newly discovered relationship for some sort of advantage, but this? Deleting company data (repeatedly!) as part of a complicated gambit to get someone fired because they have information you don’t like? CEbrO clearly hasn’t heard of the Streisand effect, has he? The best I can think is that he was so enraged at the whole situation that he was striking out at the only person in striking distance, and ended up kicking himself in the nuts in the process.

      1. learnedthehardway*

        It is absolutely batshit, isn’t it?!? I mean, in what universe does it make ANY sense whatsoever to deliberately try to harm the reputation and livelihood of an unexpected sibling like this? It’s beyond irrational. It’s just plain malicious, but it’s also STUPID.

        Also, while the OP might not have standing to sue the company (as they did the right things to redress the situation and she accepted the severance package), she may very well have the ability to sue the CEO personally now. You’d have to ask a lawyer about that, but it seems to me that if the CEO didn’t want the OP to trade on their relationship for advantage, he did a remarkably poor job of it. He’s opened the door to her suing him on the basis of deliberately trying to harm her financially, reputationally, etc. etc.

      2. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

        I don’t think the ceo deleted those files; I think he’s colluded with someone.

        OP should go back though even if for a brief period, imo. The risk otherwise is when asked in future how/why they left, it coming off as “family drama”.

      3. Arthenonyma*

        The most generous interpretation – which excuses NOTHING, to be clear – is that the CEBro drastically misinterpreted what had happened with the DNA test. We have OP’s account of how it was complete fluke and coincidence, and that their dad had no idea he had a long lost son. From CEBro’s perspective – especially if he knew or suspected his father wasn’t his bio father – I imagine it could very easily look like “my bio father always had suspicions, told his family, and now one of them has tracked me down, got a job at my company, and is planning to use this information to blackmail me into special treatment”.

        1. Arthenonyma*

          (And if that was the narrative given to the HR Goblins, it also potentially explains their willingness to jump to their old college pal’s defence by getting rid of the “threat” ASAP.)

      4. Deejay*

        “This person I’m in a position of power over might possibly do something to harm me even though they’ve shown no sign of any willingness to do so. What should I do? I know! I’ll give them every reason to want to harm me, carry out the biggest possible threat to them that I can so as to leave nothing in reserve, and put them outside my power! Yeah, that’ll work!”

    9. Working Hypothesis*

      But also a contender for Best Boss of the Year (if we did that one). Holy cripes, Katie is a complete badass and I love her.

      1. Teapot, Groomer of Llamas*

        You know, as much as I enjoy the schadenfreude of worst boss, I do think it would be fun to affirm a good one. Sadly though, i think we only hear about the horrible ones here.

  7. Cynan*


    It’s good that you got the generous severance package, but it’s probably still a good idea to talk to a lawyer – as Allison mentioned in the original response, there actually is a law against genetic information discrimination that could come into play here.

    1. Observer*

      Highly unlikely. GINA doesn’t make anti-nepotism policies illegal.

      Now, for the rest, he might have a case, but I would be willing to bet that the guy is all but judgement proof. And to be honest, I’m not sure that it would be the best thing for the OP’s mental health. This was an insane story and if the OP doesn’t even want to go back to the job, even though the CEO is gone, I can’t imagine what it would be like to have to engage with the whole crazy story for the next few years. And yes, that’s how long these cases can drag on.

      Don’t get me wrong. The OP deserves to wipe the floor with this guy. I just don’t think that this is the best way for them.

      I hope it gives the OP comfort to realize that CEBro will probably continue to self-destruct.

      1. Lana Kane*

        There could be legal intricacies that can help. Only a good lawyer can comb through all the evidence and advise the LW. A consult cannot hurt.

        1. Enai*

          It assuredly can, at least psychologically. I respect OP’s desire to never see, hear or think about CEbrO or his flying monkeys again.

          1. Troutwaxer*

            Not only that, but people who are as ugly-minded as the CEOBro aren’t necessarily people you want to sue. Note how badly he reacted to the possible risk of a family member under him in the hierarchy – very low because as CEO he was incomplete control of the situation (at least until he went around the bend.) It’s possible at this point, if the OP does nothing, that he’ll simply tell himself he overreacted and made a mistake. (I strongly suspect this has been explained to him in those terms.)

            Now imagine that the OP does something this completely-fucked-up psychopath sees as aggressive? I’m not saying the OP shouldn’t sue, but the CEOBro’s craziness is definitely something to factor into that equation.

            * At least until his behavior went around the bend.

    2. Bunny Lake Is Found*

      I’m very anti lawsuit (despite being a lawyer), but if LW consulted with a good one, it wouldn’t be a bad idea. CEBro clearly went totally bats as did his two HR Henchmen. But as LW was cleared after their suspension and CEBro was not, I would want to make sure LW has a good relationship with a lawyer who has handled similar claims.

      It just wouldn’t shock me if because CEBro was, like, flat out tampering with documents and engaging in a campaign to get rid of LW, the company was able to get rid of CEBro without paying out whatever his golden parachute was. CEBro has not displayed the greatest sense of restraint and I would be concerned he would attempt to sue the old company and likely the LW.

      He wouldn’t really have a case against LW, but it could get messy and expensive. Now I have no doubt a court would order CEBro to pay LW’s legal fees, but consulting a lawyer in advance may give LW piece of mind that, in the event CEBro goes scorched earth, LW isn’t going to go broke defending frivolous claims and that they may also have counter claims available to them to make CEBro back down.

      1. Observer*

        Yeah, consulting a lawyer is not a bad idea. Like I said, I don’t think that it would be in the OP’s best interest to launch a lawsuit, but knowing whether there are any real risks is probably a good thing.

      2. Deejay*

        Yes, the danger’s not over for LW despite neither of them working in the company any more. CEBro launched a massive pre-emptive strike when OP hadn’t done anything. How much more will he be willing to do in seeking revenge against the person he probably holds responsible for his firing?

  8. College Career Counselor*

    Holy Forking Shirtballs, LW! I’m so very sorry to hear this. I assume the severance package means they probably made you sign something saying you can’t sue the pants off this company, because they absolutely deserve it. Hang in there.

  9. Elizabeth*

    I feel like I can feel your emotional exhaustion in your writing, and it makes me wish that we, the commentariat, could sue their pants off for you.

    1. Chauncy Gardener*

      Came here to say this! The CEO….those HR folks…..what the heck?? Lather rinse repeat.

  10. Tuesday*

    This is horrible! Bless Katie for being a good manager through it all, but… what! How have the HR people been allowed to keep their jobs after all this? Bonkers. I wish you all the best, OP.

    1. Hlao-roo*

      Seconding this! I’m very sorry to hear how it all went down with CEBro and the HR goblins. I’m glad Katie and the VP had your back during this whole process, and I completely understand not wanting to return after your “firing,” which sounds like it was designed to be as humiliating as possible. Also wishing you and your family all the best.

      1. Phony Genius*

        Based on how the CEO was acting, I’m surprised he didn’t try to fire Katie and the VP, too.

        1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          I’m wondering if the owners/board were able to can the CEbrO before he could oust Katie?

          Betting that Katie at the least was on his list, and getting out before the HR Goblins can push her out may not be a bad idea for Katie to consider.

    2. Becky*

      Yup the ONE good part in this story is that Katie showed herself to be an excellent manager. But holy moly I am so sorry OP!

    3. irene adler*

      “Not our fault. We were following the CEO’s orders. What else could we do?”

      1. EPLawyer*

        I dunno have a damn brain in your heads and realize you were opening the company up to a whole lot of liability?

        Did HR NOT know the VP was talking to the owners?

        CEO, if he had kept his damn mouth shut and behaved reasonably NO ONE WOULD HAVE KNOWN the LW was his half-sister. Which apparently he did not want known. Except now EVERYONE KNOWS.

        This is just beyond bonkers. Why was the LW suspended by the company? She literally did nothing wrong. This is insane.

        LW, I sincerely hope you find a much better place that is NOT bonkers. Write in when you can.

        1. Bunny Lake Is Found*

          They were suspended with pay precisely because the situation was so bonkers. I am sure CEBro had a whole story about whatever LW supposedly did and the HR Goblins backed him up, whereas Katie (who is officially my new hero) backed LW 100%. If the HR Golblins were still around (as it seems they are), LW was safer suspended because those two would totally have kept messing with LW which would have opened the company up to even more liability (oh, and damaged LW even more emotionally). And clearly CEBro needed to be removed from the whole thing. Just easier to stay neutral and suspend both with pay until they untangle the mess.

        2. anon today*

          When I enrolled in a graduate program, one of the faculty members had the same rare surname as my mother’s maiden name, and came from a part of the country where she had relatives who didn’t like her very well. He was probably some kind of second or third cousin.

          I did not bring this up AT ALL during my time at the university. (And he was in a different part of the program where his research and courses were irrelevant to my thesis topic.)

          This is how adults handle secret relatives.

      2. Daisy*

        It is absolutely HR’s job to tell management when they are being numbskulls. Heading this type of behavior off at the pass is generally a requirement in good companies.

      3. Observer*

        “Not our fault. We were following the CEO’s orders. What else could we do?”

        Switch sides and follow THE OWNERS’ ORDERS? It’s not just that they enjoyed the whole thing, it’s that they “vehemently protested” against *the owners*. If it’s all about following orders, then you follow the orders of the highest rank, no?

  11. Octopus*

    Holy fuck.

    And what a good boss. I know we award the worst one, but can we honor Katie somehow?

      1. Dawn*

        That one’s tough because not many people write into an advice column with, “Help! My boss is too good!,” Friday Good News notwithstanding.

        1. WillowSunstar*

          This is actually a good idea, maybe we should have a semi-annual “ask people for their good boss recently” stories to lighten it up.

          1. Toolate*

            I would second this. Sometimes I just want to see what it’s like when people have great bosses or jobs

          2. Appletini*

            I would appreciate this, as someone who’s only had one boss I’d consider ‘good’. Most of AAM’s horrible bosses dismay but don’t surprise me, this CEO included — the one who surprises me is Katie by being so awesome. I want to hear more about this wondrous concept of a good boss, and possible ways to improve my chances of finding one.

          3. Timothy (TRiG)*

            I’ve had a good boss who (to reference something recently mentioned on AAM) allowed me to go part time to go back to college for a completely unrelated qualification. (Which I didn’t complete because ADHD & stress are things.) I’m still in that job now, back full time, and dreaming of trying college again.

        2. Sorrischian*

          Maybe an award specifically for folks like Katie – AAM Medal of Honor for being a bright spot in a bad situation

          1. But Not the Hippopotamus*

            If we make that A Thing, I would totally start asking about whether managers have it when I interview. “I’m like to know more about your managerial style… have you gotten an Ask A Manager Medal of Honor?”

          1. Working Hypothesis*

            We’d need to collect them somehow, since as was pointed out, very few people write in to AAM to ask what to do about their terrific boss. Occasionally — I’m remembering “my company wants to give me a service dog, can I accept?” but not often. How about this: three months before the end of year voting, we run a post asking people for their great boss stories, plus we pull whatever we can from the Friday good news stories (a fair number of which include good bosses). Then we make an annual Best Boss award voted at the same time as the Worst Boss award. Also, this one should be named for Katie.

    1. Airkewl Pwaroe*

      agree that there should be a Best Boss category! Other nominees from past years should include the folks who sponsored an employee for a service dog, and the boss who instantly refused to hire an employee’s stalker ex.

  12. Still*

    I’m both horrified that this has happened to you and glad that people at the company had your back. And the phrase “I wish them the future they deserve” is just beautiful. I, too, wish them the future they deserve.

  13. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

    Ooof. OP did not deserve any of that. The work paranoia, the firing, difficult conversations with family, none of it.

    I really wonder if this kind of thing is going to wreck fertility clinics, sperm banks, surrogacy, etc. Somebody may have signed up as an anonymous donor in the 80s, but his progeny can unwittingly out themselves & their father. OP’s dad’s situation is just that much worse because it wasn’t done through any kind of official system.

    1. zuzu*

      I don’t think there was any kind of clinic or turkey baster involved. It sounds like the “donation” was a little more direct, IYKWIMAITYD.

      1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

        Yeah, I think everyone is accepting the “official story,” kind of like when people remark that it’s wonderful the premature baby managed to grow to 10 pounds in just five months.

      2. NotRealAnonforThis*

        It certainly just became a little less fuzzy now that I’ve thought about it (to be fair – there was a whole lot of crazed murder hornets in there to dodge til I get to the part about “what do you mean set up as an unwilling/unwitting donor for a childless couple…how’s that work?????” Oh. Wait.)

      3. Murfle*

        Just so it’s spelled out in plain language, am I right in understanding the situation as follows?

        – Childless couple wants a baby
        – Couple approaches a woman and basically requests her to be a surrogate mother
        – Woman deliberately gets herself knocked up by LW’s dad
        – Presto, CEOBro is born and adopted by the original couple

        Or is there some other situation I’m overlooking?

        1. Cool Tina, Train Conductress*

          I don’t see any indication that there was a surrogate involved. Sounds like one half of the childless couple couldn’t produce (adequate) sperm so the other half seduced LW’s dad and stole his.

          1. Bee*

            Right, no surrogate involved – the wife (with the husband’s knowledge) found a likely-looking man & slept with him with the intention of becoming pregnant. Presumably.

            1. Daisy*

              Yeah, this is what I understood from the letter. Couple couldn’t have a baby so the wife found a guy to act as sperm doner without his knowledge. Cheaper than a sperm donation at a medical clinic.

            2. GreyjoyGardens*

              That’s the impression I got. From the original letter it seemed that Dad was in the army; for Wifey to go out and pick up Random Soldier to conceive, figuring that he’s going to be stationed somewhere else pretty soon anyway, is so plausible it hurts. Military men tend to move around a lot, and nobody thought that something like home DNA tests would become available.

              It’s not clear to me if Husband was any the wiser (until now!) or if he went along with the whole business, and that’s not germane to the letter, but oh boy. This is a case of TV Tropes “Reality Is Unrealistic!”

        2. Jamtoday*

          LW shared a father with CEO so my understanding is:
          – Childless couple wants a baby
          – The Woman in the couple approaches a man (LW father) and has, if not one night stand, a very short affair
          – Woman deliberately gets pregnant, never telling the man
          – Presto, CEOBro is born and seemingly grew up not knowing he is the product of this “arrangement” until the DNA test site

          1. mf*

            This explains why CEBro lost it. He probably didn’t want his parents’ nefarious baby-trapping ways to go public.

            Still, this guy is an effing monster. I hope his professional reputation never recovers.

            1. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

              Or he had no idea and his whole childhood was blown up.
              Not condoning his actions AT ALL, but can see how that would f with someone’s worldview for sure!

              1. Troutwaxer*

                If that’s how the parents behaved, what was the CEOBro’s childhood like? And what kind of relationship did he have with his siblings?

                1. Princess Sparklepony*

                  He may not have had any siblings… Or if he did, they also did not look like dad.

              2. Rebelx*

                I mean, yeah, I can understand having LOTS OF FEELINGS if you find out something like this, even to the point of wanting nothing to do with LW. Or even the nepotism class, if it had ended there, could’ve maaaybe been overlooked as an extreme overreaction in the immediate aftermath of learning particularly shocking news. But scheming for WEEKS to get her fired??? So, so, so awful. Sorry you had to go through this, LW.

        3. Petty Patty*

          I think the implication is that CEBro’s mom was married and they were the childless couple who wanted a baby.

    2. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

      If you haven’t watched “Our Father” on Netflix, you’re in for a ride. But it will also infuriate you.
      (This isn’t OP’s situation, but is about donors and genealogy sites)

    3. bookmark*

      I think the reality is that a lot of the fertility/donor situations are just going to be more open in the future. Thankfully the stigma associated with these options is declining, and there’s also a lot more research showing that it’s much better for parents to be honest in age appropriate ways with kids about how they were conceived. The transition over the next decade-ish is going to be awkward, but hopefully end up in a place where these things aren’t shameful secrets that make people like CEbro lash out in hurtful ways.

      1. Susannah*

        Well, but … not everyone would want his progeny to track him down later as the sperm donor.
        I myself do not understand the obsession with finding “lost” family members. Do people thin k you’ll suddenly develop some bond and have holidays together? Just because you share DNA?
        I would feel really violated if someone tracked me down, claiming to be related to me and wanting relationship.

        1. LJ*

          Maybe it’s the Lifetime movies or the stories you hear on the news sometimes, but it seems like people do end up bonding?

          1. Anon this time*

            Going anon because the situation is very identifiable – my dad knew he was a sperm donor baby, but not that the donor was actually the clinic doctor (who had fled pogroms, and after the Holocaust seems to have taken it upon himself to help Jewish couples dealing with male infertility, have children, in this extremely bizarre way). When my dad did a genetic test it turned out that there were a LOT of half-sibs, and they have a whole community. Social media groups, visits, get-togethers, lots of camaraderie. I think a lot of them (including my dad) had grown up as only children, with a lot of the branches of their extended families having been lost to genocide. It’s opt-in of course, they don’t force a relationship with anyone. But when new sibs show up in those genetic testing sites, someone will reach out and see if the newly-discovered sib wants in on the little community. It’s actually really touching.

              1. Theo*

                I’d assume Anon This Time has a grasp on the appropriate family dynamics and religious implications/needs at play here, as it is *their* family, and this isn’t really the place to push someone to consult a religious authority of any kind.

              2. Kit*

                Seconding Theo – and given how many diasporic Jews are not Orthodox, also really inappropriate to assume that a Chabad rabbi would be the necessary first port of call! Only about 1 in 5 American Jewish households belong to an Orthodox shul; there’s no need to invalidate the array of other Jewish experiences, from Conservative through Reform to secular. Those who are observant know where the resources are, and which are appropriate for them.

          2. EchoGirl*

            It depends a lot on the situation/specific relationship. My mom has gotten really into genealogy and ended up finding a branch of her family she wasn’t familiar with, and eventually pieced together that a relative who the family had thought was a Holocaust victim had actually survived; the relatives my mom found were his descendants. I’m not saying they’re super close, but I know that being able to connect with this piece of their past after so long was meaningful for all sides.

            However, I think it gets more complicated when dealing with adoption or donor child situations, since those arrangements were often made with an express expectation of anonymity. That’s a whole other layer beyond just long-lost cousins or something.

          3. doreen*

            Sometimes. Around 30 years ago my husband ( who knew he was adopted ) got a call from someone who claimed to be his bio-sibling. We had enough information to figure out that this was really the sibling ( the original and post-adoption birth certificates had the same registry number). My husband wanted a relationship with the siblings, and we still see them often.

        2. Iris Eyes*

          People with rare/genetic diseases have a pretty vested interest in finding their genetic family.

        3. Genealogist Hat On*

          The general advice I’ve heard for adoptees and other people trying to find out about biological relatives: You’re entitled to information (the facts of your biological connection and any relevant family medical history); you’re not entitled to a relationship.

          I already have an extended family, some of whom I adore and some of whom I’d happily never interact with again. If I contact a DNA match, it’s not because I’m interested in becoming Family; it’s because I’m trying to figure out where they fit in my tree or to confirm what I suspect from the paper trail/DNA matches, and it’s no big deal if we never speak again.

          1. Francie Foxglove*

            Exactly. My DH has information on his bio parents, but he believes that any reaching out should come from them. They (or their own parents; who knows), chose to carry the pregnancy to term, and chose to give the baby up, so the choice to make contact should also be theirs. So far, no one has made that choice, but if that avoids complications, he’s okay with it.

            1. Connie-Lynne*

              There exist in many states now registries where both the bio parents and the adoptee can sign up saying whether they are willing to be contacted. If both parties register, they’re notified.

              I think that’s the best method. It allows both parties to give consent AND know the other party has consented.

              This is particularly key in states where anonymous adoption was required by law, which was still going on well into the 90s.

          2. Name*

            The problem with that is that the bio dad usually doesn’t know he has any unknown children out there. My uncle didn’t know that a few one night stands resulted in two daughters. Looks like OP’s dad didn’t know he had a son out there either.

        4. Genevieve*

          If anyone ever did discover a surprise close genetic relationship with you, hopefully they would approach you with tact and grace in anticipation of this presumed feeling of violation, and you would also extend to them the courtesy of a civil response in establishing your boundaries. Even if a biological connection is meaningless to you, it might not be to them. Adoptees can wrestle with complex and sometimes contradictory feelings about abandonment, DNA, and family. A little empathy, yo.

        5. PlainJane*

          To answer that… it’s not so much an idea that we’d be spending happy holidays together as the sense that something has been taken from me, something that belongs to me by nature, and there’s this sense of *unfairness*. Furtively trying to find out who they are… it’s like stealing my own stuff back from thieves.

          1. virago*

            PlainJane, a writer named Liz Prato is an adoptee and has written very movingly of her contact with her biological family and how that has turned out for her, in the essays “Second Skin” and “Without Touch.”

            Both essays are available online, and if you Google “liz prato adoption podcast,” she also has spoken about her experiences, on the podcast Adoptees On.

            To provide some context: Liz is 55. Her biological parents were in their early 20s when she was conceived. She grew up in Denver and had an adopted older brother, Steve (he and Liz were not biologically related). At the age of 44, she was the only one still alive out of her adoptive family (extended family as well as immediate kin).

            She has a website if you want to know more about her.

            (I’m not Liz, and I don’t work for her or her agent, I swear. I came to her through other unforgettable essays she’s written and that friends have posted, for The Toast and Rumpus and lots of other places.)

            1. virago*

              P.S. Prato’s essay for The Toast is headlined “The Terrible Things I Learned About My Dad: On Abuse and the People We Love.” CW: Sexual abuse; sexual assault.

        6. Princess Sparklepony*

          One of my cousins had a “traveling man” for a father. He was married to her mom but he spent a lot of time on the road. She found out much later through DNA tests she had a few half siblings. Some she really enjoyed meeting, others not so much. She found it eye opening how some were very much like her and some were not at all like her.

    4. LifeBeforeCorona*

      This is one reason why I’m against DNA testing unless you are willing to accept that the results may not be sunshine and roses. For every long lost cousin there are half-siblings conceived during a marriage without the knowledge of one partner. So many cans of worms have been opened that can never be closed again.

      1. Sasha*

        And unexpected non-parentage. I had an acquaintance a couple of years ago who found out her dad was not actually her dad that way. It was not a sperm donor situation, unfortunately.

        1. J*

          That’s literally not how it works. There’s a very few sites who collaborate with criminal investigations but they require opt in. I have three family DNA tests I manage, one gave consent to have his DNA shared with police. While my grandfather’s choice might affect my father too, my father opted out so any authorities would be using genealogists who are triangulating from a further point.

      2. Burger Bob*

        Yep. A couple of my uncles got into DNA testing and genealogy tracing because there is a mystery grandfather a few generations back (great-great grandma had a brief fling with a traveling doctor) and they wanted to try to figure out who he was. In the process, they have instead discovered a secret half-cousin and two secret half-siblings. There have been Feelings, to put it mildly.

    5. Whatever*

      I have mixed feelings about DNA testing for personal reasons (it’s all good for crime fighting reasons). As someone who received unexpected results, and could have happily lived the rest of my life without knowing what I found out, I wish I hadn’t done it just to get ethnicity information. Now I see you can ask for DNA matches not to be shown if you just want ethnicity data, didn’t know that when I took the test. All the parties involved in the unexpected results are long dead so there is nothing to be done with hurtful information except live with it and not let it disrupt your present day life.

      On the other hands, when it’s wanted, to be connected with long-lost relatives can be a godsend.

      OP, what happened to you was unconscionable. You had nothing at all to do with how you got here, and I don’t believe offspring should ever be punished for what their parents did. Those HR folks should be disciplined somehow. Thank goodness you had a bona-fide human for a manager. You’ll be fine, that “brother”, not so much.

      1. Observer*

        You’ll be fine, that “brother”, not so much

        Very much this. I agree with your whole comment, but this is key.

    6. Name*

      With all of the donations, it may be a while before it’s even noticed. I’m in groups where people use DNA tests to find bio family. There are donor conceived people who oldest half-sibling is 30-40 years older than the youngest. Frozen sperm lasts as long as it doesn’t get freezer burn. And the US is the Wild West of donor conception. There are no laws or regulations so clinics can do what they want.
      That said, I agree that it seems as though mom stepped out and got pregnant with OP’s dad the old fashioned way.

    7. Ellis Bell*

      It was worse than just unofficial, OP’s father was very unforgivably deceived. That would have been bad enough, but then the child he was tricked into making also uses deceit to go after his genetic half sibling like there’s a throne at risk? Who are these people?

  14. pengy*

    Wow. I really love CEbrO. Very clever.

    I know this was a lot, but you did nothing wrong. I wish you could go back. You were the wronged party here! And if you loved your job, relaly, you deserve to be there.

    Any repercussions for HR? I suppose if they were still there it would be unpleasant but they really sucked.

    Kudos for you for your writing style and keeping your chin up even when this horribleness was happening.

    1. AGD*

      Yeah, I’m feeling divided between “this is egregiously bad and I’m appalled” and “the writing is hilarious.” I had to stop and laugh for a bit at CEBro, and then completely lost it at the part about Grandma’s possible Irish roots.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Yeah, I had to stop at the Jerry Springer/Irish Grandma thing and wheeze for a minute.

  15. squirreltooth*

    I read this with my jaw practically on the floor. I can’t imagine the HR goblins can ever be trusted, after what so many employees witnessed. If the VPs/owners are smart, they’ll get kicked out out the door.

  16. Alissa*

    My only question is if IT was ever alerted to all the files being deleted. I bet they could have tracked remote access, which might help get HR fired if they participated. Plus, it feels like the correct way to address a company security breach.

    1. A Poster Has No Name*

      I doubt IT would be alerted about files being deleted, as there are plenty of legit reasons to delete files off of shared servers, but they should have been able to track the changes and see who deleted them.

      1. Random Dice*

        I get an alert when I delete large numbers of files, and IT does too.

        But the investigation can definitely show who deleted them.

      2. Troutwaxer*

        In the course of the investigation, I’m sure Katie would have discussed this particular issue with the investigators, and the question of who did this would have been answered. (This is why computers keep logs of the commands they are issued.)

        BTW, I propose that the canonical name for a good boss on this site should be “Katie” henceforward.

  17. Jen*

    That is the worst! I must say I got a chuckle out of the term “CEBro” :)
    Hang in there buddy.

    1. New Jack Karyn*

      Also enjoying, “(W)e didn’t ask for the complete Jerry Springer package, we just wanted to know what part of Ireland Grandma was from.”

      1. Miss Muffet*

        Also enjoyed this little sentence too. In the midst of the update-from-hell, it made me chuckle.

  18. TrixieD*

    That is a hot mess of a situation. I’m so sorry for what you’ve had to endure, especially since you LITERALLY did nothing wrong. I agree with you for wishing bad juju on those HR hacks. What a circus.

  19. Catalyst*

    I had to read this twice, I have no words! OP I really hope that you can continue to freelance or find something that you enjoy. I am really happy that your boss had your back, as well as the VP. It could have gone very differently and somehow been even worse without them. What a complete cluster f over something that you had no control over.

    1. EPLawyer*

      I hope Katie looks at the situation and nopes the heck out of there. Then finds a new job and hires LW.

      1. Bunny Lake Is Found*

        Or got a serious promotion for a) seeing the situation for what it was and b) for actively taking steps to protect the LW at every turn. She did the thing that HR is supposed to do: protect the company by keeping good employees protected from bad employees (regardless of rank or title). I want Katie running Twitter. Like, yesterday.

  20. DaniCalifornia*

    WOW…just wow. OP this just sucks all around, especially because you never had intentions of brining it up. And CEBro messed this up for everyone. And HR? WTF.
    Wishing you a good new job and drama free next working relationship. I hope the company also included a good recommendation for any future jobs?

  21. Pick A Little Talk A Little*

    I also hope these people have the lives they deserve.

    May their pillows always be too flat or too fluffy to be entirely comfortable.

      1. But Not the Hippopotamus*

        I wouldn’t want to expose the cats to them… but I have no qualms wishing them a stink bug infestation.

    1. No Longer Gig-less Data Analyst*

      And may there always be Legos for them to step on, but never any shoes.

    2. Chauncy Gardener*

      And may all their excel files have gremlins (worst curse an accountant can ever put on someone)

    3. The Eye of Argon*

      May they always have to go to the bathroom just as soon as they get settled in bed.

    4. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      May their next bowel movement resemble a hedgehog, the worse way round.

      1. swanjun*

        May they always realize *after* utilizing the facilities that they have, at maximum, three squares of toilet paper left.

    5. WillowSunstar*

      May their internet connection always be too slow, no matter which Wi-Fi/VPN/service provider/how much money they throw at it situation they have.

    6. Trixie the Great and Pedantic*

      May every traffic light they approach turn red as soon as they get to it.

    7. But Not the Hippopotamus*

      May they one day truly and deeply understand how horrible they were and have to live with that knowledge.

      1. Granny Weatherwax*

        Yes! May they tell this story at a party someday thinking it’s so funny and get stares of horror and disgust from everyone there.

    8. Emotional support capybara (he/him)*

      May they spend a whole week looking forward to a fancy dinner, only to find a hair in it.

    9. The Prettiest Curse*

      May they always lose the chargers for their favourite electronic devices at an inconvenient moment. And may their computers eternally choose the worst possible time to automatically update their software.

    10. Too Many Tabs Open*

      May they discover a dead roach in their cup halfway through drinking their morning coffee.

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        Yes, all of the roaches living in Keurig machines need to unite and descend on these a-holes!

  22. Kermit's Bookkeepers*

    I am not one to jump straight to litigation as an answer, but I can’t help but think you could wind up owning the company after this. In any event, I’m incredibly sorry for what appears to have been a truly, incredibly sucky time.

    1. mf*

      The fact that CEBro and the HR goblins tried to frame the OP for hiding/deleting work content ? That strikes me as defamation.

      1. Observer*

        True. But the Owners wisely protected themselves by rescinding the firing, doing a quick investigation, firing CEBro, apologizing to the OP and offering OP the job back and then providing a severance package.

        If this goes into court, they will say “Hey we had no idea that this dude was raging maniac until Katie called us. And when we figured out what happened we FIRED the guy.” And that’s true.

  23. CoHikerGirl*


    I am so so sorry, OP. My heart broke when I read that you just wanted to know what part of Ireland grandma was from. That something as innocent as that led to all this…

    I’m so glad you had Katie in all this. She sounds amazing and deserves all the cookies (as do you, of course…with ice cream).

  24. Sherm*

    Dang. Katie sounds absolutely amazing, at least. Few would have the courage to intercept a perp walk. You know what’s best, OP, but Katie is made out of gold, and I hope you can profit from that. Wishing you the best!

  25. ZSD*

    I might be missing it, but once HR was told by Katie what was actually going on, what was their reason for still trying to fire the LW the following Monday?

    1. Pick A Little Talk A Little*

      I mean this is hardly the first AAM letter where an HR person attempted to fired the wronged party because they were in a personal relationship with the person who had wronged them.

        1. GreyjoyGardens*

          That was the first thing I thought of. Spicy Food CEO was “seeing” Complainer About Spicy Food. It’s possible that one of the goblins is “seeing” CEOBro, but equally possible they are friends, or else people who hoped to hitch their wagons to CEOBro’s career and are not happy at the wheels coming off.

          1. Random Dice*

            The letter says one of the HR goblins used to date CEBro, and the other one is a friend.

    2. lyonite*

      My guess is, whether they had history with the CEO or not, they figured it was in their interest to be on his team, since they perceived him as being the one who had power, versus a lowly employee. They obviously guessed wrong, and I hope it comes back to bite them.

      1. irene adler*

        Yeah, that’s my take as well.
        They took sides instead of stepping back to understand the entire situation.

      2. SHEILA, the co-host*

        Yes – they wanted to kiss up to CEBro, and also may have been looking to cover their own tracks at that point.

      3. Ama*

        I think it’s interesting that OP said she had no idea CEO wasn’t owner of the company himself, which could mean the actual owners tend to be pretty hands off (until of course this situation forced their hand), which might mean HR didn’t think they’d override the CEO.

        They could also have gotten high on a power trip and figured if they fired OP, Katie would take that as a warning and maybe stop?

  26. Sparkles McFadden*

    Thanks for writing in LW. I am so sorry that happened to you. I expected something crazy but this was all beyond my imagination. Your manager sounds great, and I can almost see going back to the company if they fire the crazy people from HR. Keep in touch with your manager and other coworkers no matter what you decide. I am sure they don’t hold you responsible for any of this.

  27. I'm fabulous!*

    I’m so sorry, OP. I don’t know if you can now but I’d seek legal counsel. I’m glad to hear that Katie was in your corner and I hope she can be a reference for you.

  28. Robin Ellacott*

    This is genuinely insane and I’m so sorry. Deleting your work! A lawyer would have had a field day with that firing and I hope it was a LOT of severance. I’m glad Katie at least had your back but none of this should have happened and it’s CRAZY that it did.

    I share your perfectly phrased wish that the HR drama llamas get the “future they deserve”.

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      At the very bottom:

      Rumors have reached me that both the people in HR are connected with CEBro in some way — like former college friends or exes or something.

      Nepotism strikes again!

        1. AD*

          Yeah, I’d be curious what happened to the HR folks after this egregious behavior. I’m sure OP has no investment to find out more about this company after all this, but the VP and owners sound reasonable — I would hope they would have been outraged after how all this went down.

        2. Goldenrod*

          Firstly, I love the appellation “HR goblins.”

          Secondly, this made me laugh:
          “As a family we decided to support Dad and just drop it because we didn’t ask for the complete Jerry Springer package, we just wanted to know what part of Ireland Grandma was from.” HAHAHAHHA!

          Third: I am a bit shocked that the CEBro (love that too!) reacted the way he did, but I am IN NO WAY shocked by HR. I always expect the worst of HR these days. Reminds me of the “Monsters Inc.” ride at Disneyland…one of my favorite details is when the car goes past the door marked “Inhuman Resources”….

          OP, I join you in your hope that they get the future they deserve!

        3. Ellis Bell*

          I wonder if they were given a last chance because they were being directed by the CEBro as their boss. I think OP is right though that they were genuinely gloating over their power through him and just didn’t want to give that up.

      1. I AM a Lawyer*

        I thought that was so ironic, in light of the nepotism training CEBro ordered. I guess he was projecting.

      2. mf*

        There’s a tremendous amount irony here in the fact that the HR goblins were targeting the OP with nepotism training when they themselves are the actual beneficiaries of nepotism.

  29. Name*

    Having done a lot of genetic genealogy and unknown parentage searches, even finding a few in my family, I’m not surprised at how it turned out. People are thrown surprises and react without thinking it through. Half of my family won’t talk to me because I found out my uncle had kids with someone who wasn’t his wife. Fun times.
    If you ever need support on that side, there’s plenty of groups online. In the meantime, I hope you find the resolution that you need.

  30. WantonSeedStitch*

    This is utterly pantalones de plátanos.

    OP, I’m so sorry this happened! I think CEBro is definitely a contender for Worst Boss of the Year. Katie, OTOH, deserves some kind of an award for having your back like that.

      1. WillowSunstar*

        The funny thing is I understood this with my high school level/6-month exchange student in the mid 90’s – German. :)

        Bananaimhosen should be a hashtag.

        1. Enai*

          Correct German would be “Bananenhose” for “bananapants”. Now I wonder if I could make it catch on as a replacement for “Quark mit Sosse”. It rhymes, even!

  31. Kimmy Schmidt*

    I’m so glad Katie had your back throughout this dumpster fire, and it sounds like she’ll be a great reference.

    1. SHEILA, the co-host*

      YES. I cannot imagine watching this unfold and trying to protect your employees in this environment. Bravo to her.

  32. Lisanthus*

    Oh, LW, I am so sorry about all this.

    If the HR goblins have any Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) certifications in their sig blocks, you — or a lawyer — may want to contact SHRM about their violating SHRM’s code of ethics. Even if they don’t, reaching out to SHRM might give you some support.

    1. StellaBella*

      Coming here to ask about this thank you. If they are certified or on linkedin with some certifications listed for HR – contact those bodies with a letter outlining the ethics violations and ask that their certifications for HR get removed. Also, not that you want to do this now but perhaps a glassdoor review on HR at this firm? (maybe not possible).

  33. Petty Patty*

    All I can say is I hope your severence was VERY VERY generous. And I still wish you could sue the company because of how the HR goblins treated you.

  34. Petty Patty*

    All I can say is I hope your severance was VERY VERY generous. And I still wish you could sue the company because of how the HR goblins treated you.

  35. Blinded By the Gaslight*

    It’s truly sickening to think OP had to go through all of this and lose their job for literally NO DAMN REASON while the HR goblins are still employed. Once they were made aware of the sabotage, and once they were aware Katie and the VP had OP’s back, why the hell were they still proceeding with the disciplinary actions?? That’s suspicious as hell.

    OP, I’m so sorry you had to go through all of this unnecessary bullshit. I hope your severance buys you ample time to recover and find new opportunities.

  36. ATC*

    I’m sorry this happened. I love the last line of your update: “I wish them the future they deserve.” I’ll be borrowing it.

  37. BluRae*

    Given how Katie immediately got suspicious that you’re files got intentionally deleted from the server the first time it happened, I bet this isn’t the first instance of bonkers, or at least immature behavior from the CEbrO.

    Also, “I wish them the future they deserve,” is a delightful classy put-down. Bravo.

    I wish you much peace and money in your next job.

  38. ChemistryChick*

    Holy guacamole, OP, what a ride. I hate you had to endure this but I love that you had someone like Katie on your six through it all. I’m glad you at least got a good severance package in the end and I hope you find something that’s the perfect fit for you.

    “I wish them the future they deserve” is an absolute gem and I hope you won’t mind me borrowing it.

  39. Minerva*


    LW I am so sorry you went through all that. Very clear that HR & CEBro (I do giggle at that) were in cahoots to get you fired. Glad your company did their best to do the right thing when the right people found out.

    The worst part is that it was all so unnecessary. Sounds like you were willing to continue living your life like you were totally unaware of the connection and no one would have been the wiser. I can’t imagine what was going through CEBro’s head.

    1. Random Dice*

      CEBro made me laugh too.

      That OP is still in the shockwave of this hell and still able to make wry perfectly-weighted jokes is astounding.

      OP and Katie are an incredible team.

      In my imagination, they’ll be drinking mai tais on a beach together in 20 years, best friends after the CEBro Incident, maybe after getting rich in the company they found together.

  40. Name (Required)*

    I might not try to sue the company, but I would FOR SURE sue CEBro for intentional infliction of emotional distress!!!

      1. Regina*

        But I cannot imagine wanting that money more than I would want to never have to think about this again

        1. Corporate Lawyer*

          Yes, this. Plus intentional infliction of emotional distress is a really, REALLY tough case to bring because the bar is so high for bad conduct. It’s been many years since I read the relevant case in law school, but IIRC the CEBro’s conduct wouldn’t be anywhere near bad enough to meet the threshold for an IIED claim.

        2. Observer*

          This is where I come down.

          The OP’s humor is amazing, but it strikes me that they are also being very thoughtful about taking care of themselves. And I think that just cutting off every last bit of contact with this dude is one really important piece of that.

  41. zolk*

    I… really hope the HR people also get fired. This is so deeply upsetting, and I’m so glad OP is out of there with generous severance. Fingers crossed they find a new and low-drama job soon. I know the work-PTSD of this kind of thing can linger for years. Best of luck to you, OP! You deserve better!

  42. TypityTypeType*

    Jumping from “I have a previously unknown half-brother at the company, how shall I respond?” directly to “This person I’ve never even talked to is *obviously* going to try to take advantage of his connection with my most high and exalted CEO-ness” is incrediblyy strange. The guy is a company CEO, not a hereditary monarch.

    Glad you’re out of there, LW — but so sorry you had to suffer because this guy has a screw loose (or two).

    1. BluRae*

      Uncharitably, I have to assume that the CEO would take advantage of a newfound half-sibling’s status, so he assumed OP would do the same. Because he’s a bad, unethical person and imagine anyone being better.

      1. Dust Bunny*

        I mean . . . his parents set up the OP’s dad as an “unwitting sperm donor”, so . . .

        1. SHEILA, the co-host*

          Yep. Didn’t exactly have exemplars of good judgement raising him, so I’m not surprised his response was completely over the top.

      2. Lenora Rose*

        Well, we can see the lengths he goes to to quash someone he sees as a threat, it would follow that he’d absolutely be just as abusive of upward access.

    2. JSPA*

      Ruthless, manipulative people-users raising more of same? Seems reasonable to me, with the full back-story.

      1. pope suburban*

        I agree, I wonder what his parents told him about the whole situation. Either while he was growing up, or if/when he approached them after getting the news from the DNA website. CEBro is wildly out of line anyway, no excuses, but I do wonder if he’s been fed a narrative growing up, or recently from his parents he presumably thought he could trust, that would alarm him enough to go to such drastic ends. And then it sounds like HR is, ironically, trying to curry favor with their college chum by taking his side to the extent of breaking their own professional guidelines. This seems like mess upon mess upon mess and it’s terrible.

        1. Mill Miker*

          For some reason, unless the call was some kind of “Let me explain why OP has no claim to CEBro’s fortunes” thing, the mother reaching out makes me think his parents are not really on board with whatever is going on. Like, my gut read is “The truth sucks, but let’s clear the air before you get CEBro’s even worse fantasy version”

          1. GreyjoyGardens*

            That’s how I read it: damage control. “Yeah, this doesn’t cast us in the best light, but CEBro might cast us in an even worse one.” Doesn’t speak volumes on how they raised their son, but they probably were not thinking any of this would ever be found out. I recall from the original letter that LW’s Dad was in the military. Childless couple probably thought that a solider who would just be stationed somewhere else pretty soon would be the perfect patsy for their, ahem, “donation.”

            That absolutely does not excuse CEBro. If he was blindsided, the place to discuss that was the therapist’s office (or with his parents!) not take it out on the LW, who is really just an innocent, if genetically related, bystander to this drama.

          2. Silver Robin*

            I can just as easily see the Mom saying “I know you know but do not come near us”. CEBro learned his paranoia from somewhere, Mom could also be thinking that Dad might want to mess things up even more for her precious angel. I mean look how much distress that nasty half-sibling already caused! (Sarcasm, to be very very clear)

        2. JSPA*

          He probably thought his dad was his dad, that his dad played around, and that some of his dad’s money could go to some interloper.

          That’s the simplest answer. And we know mom lies* to cover inconvenient truths.

          *given that she’s admitted to trickery or lying, at best, by omission…either that’s the truth, which is that she lies about important things…or that statement itself was a lie, and she still lies about important things.

    3. Inkognyto*

      Agh what a mess. Trying to deal with just “I have more family” and then find out one is a nutcase in one of the worst ways.

      When the LW stated “Complete Jerry Springer Package” it summed it up nicely.

    4. Tesuji*

      I don’t think there’s any way to make CEbrO actually sympathetic, but…

      We don’t actually know what his parents told him. Most commenters seem to jump to “He didn’t know that his father wasn’t his biological father” but that’s not the only option. Odds are that he received *some* explanation from his parents after discovering the LW.

      Imagine if he was told some story that paints the father as a monster that his mother needed to be protected against (e.g., that he assaulted or abused her)?

      Panic at finding out that his DNA test sent up a flare for the monster to find her against and that the monster’s child has infiltrated your company isn’t entirely insane. It’s kind of human to assume that everything is about you, and look at it situations through that lens, even though we know that’s not true.

      1. redflagday701*

        I dunno, it’s pretty insane. It would be a bit different if the LW had taken the job shortly before or after the DNA results — that would make anyone wonder if there was a connection! But LW had been there for some time, the CEO had worked with them before, and basic logic would suggest that since the CEO had just been notified about the DNA results after Dad got the tests done, they were news to LW too.

        I would totally understand the CEO being shaken if he’d had no idea at all that the man who raised him wasn’t genetically his father. But a non-insane response would be to talk to the LW and get as much information as possible before leaping all the way to branch-wide nepotism training and blocking LW and all of LW’s siblings on social media. Like, what on earth? To assume off the bat that LW posed some kind of imminent threat is just bizarre, and to not dig any deeper and instead mobilize HR against LW is even more outrageous.

        It is human to assume everything is about you, but someone so wrapped up in that assumption should not be a CEO of anything. This behavior seems very much in line with the whole weird thing in this country where people with lots of money and power believe the entire world is out to get them.

      2. Observer*

        Panic at finding out that his DNA test sent up a flare for the monster to find her against and that the monster’s child has infiltrated your company isn’t entirely insane.

        Well INITIAL panic is not insane. But what this guy did WAS insane – at best. Because instead of hunkering down after the nepotism training bit, which could be explained by panic, he went on a calculated campaign of trying to make the OP look bad so they could have an excuse to fire them. Sure, when that didn’t work, he tried to fire them anyway, but you can see that is wasn’t just an initial blind panic. He did a LOT of thinking about this.

      3. Appletini*

        It’s totally understandable why the CEbrO freaked out and used all his power to defend himself from a perceived threat. But being understandable doesn’t make him one bit closer to being right. He is allowed to freak out in his own space, not to try to destroy LW.

    5. Nobby Nobbs*

      “Not a hereditary monarch” is the right phrasing here. CEbro is acting like the lousy relatives in every novel I’ve ever read with a hereditary monarchy and lousy relatives. Maybe don’t go hunting any time soon, LW.

  43. Miss Fisher*

    I cannot even fathom by any means why the CEO reacted this badly, especially when the OP did nothing to try to connect to him in anyway. And even if she had, why act this way at all? You are causing an innocent person in all of this a lot of anxiety and actually doing damage to the company by deleting work.

    1. Myrin*

      Right? I can totally understand how earth-shatteringly shocking it can be to realise your father isn’t your biological father – which, given the “unwitting sperm donor for a childless couple” situation, seems to be the case here – but this was so beyond that and involved a vindictiveness and power tripping that it’s not even in the same milky way.

    2. Weaponized Pumpkin*

      The worst I could imagine was the CEBro being hella weird, trying to push the LW out the door or making it impossible for them to succeed there. But deliberate sabotage and framing the LW for deleting files… that’s beyond my fathoming. I apparently haven’t known enough unhinged or evil folks in my life.

      1. Troutwaxer*

        In the same situation, I would have talked to the owner about what had happened and how freaked out I felt, then asked the owner for a couple weeks off.

  44. StellaBella*

    OP I am so so sorry all of this happened to you. You have my best wishes that the rest of your year is banana-pants free and full of good things for you.

  45. Connor*

    This is the craziest thing I’ve ever read. I wish they would’ve cleared house of HR so she could go back to her job and feel supported. BONKERS

    1. I'm Just Here for the Cats!!*

      The company apologized, offered OP their job back, and gave a large severance so I don’t see what good a civil suit would be. Really what more could they expect? And the OP chose not to come back because of all this drama. And I don’t blame them. Who knows who else CEBro might be freinds with who could make working there a living hell.

      1. Meep*

        I am pretty sure Camellia meant against CEBro and the goblins since what they did potentially hurt OP’s reputation and finances.

        1. Sagegreengrrl*

          That’s what I was thinking too..mainly against the half brother who is clearly evil and must be destroyed.

          1. Observer*

            Let him destroy himself. And, odds are that he WILL. Keep in mind that he almost certainly didn’t get a golden parachute. And I don’t think that people are going to keep the reason for his firing secret. No big announcements, but stories like this spread. That’s not going to do much for his career.

  46. Dawn*

    Good lord, is this guy related to the entirety of the HR department, too?

    I’m so sorry you had to go through this; this is an absolutely ridiculous reaction from everyone involved on your company’s end – even knowing the situation, the executives still suspended you! What! And you never should have had to deal with any of this.

  47. HugeTractsofLand*

    I’m so sorry that this all happened to you, you did literally nothing wrong. I hope that you stay in touch with your boss, because she really had your back. I think she could have moved a bit quicker on looping in a higher up, but the fact that she caught you on your way out the door after the ambush-firing is excellent. I understand why you wanted to leave, and there’s no way I would go back there either unless CEBro AND the HR goblins were fired. I wish you all the best recovering from this and in your future work, you deserve it.

  48. bunniferous*

    This hurts my heart on all kinds of levels. As I mentioned on the original thread I found out my dad was not my dad and that I actually HAD siblings so I know the emotional wreck these revelations can cause-but CEObro absolutely handled this the worst possible way. OP did not deserve any of this. I can’t help but wonder if there was more to it than that because boy howdy were these actions unhinged as hell. And the HR people absolutely need to be perp walked out. I can ALMOST understand CEObro losing his mind but HR even if they were his buds have NO excuse. NONE.

    And once again I am thankful that my own half siblings have been WONDERFUL. Particularly since my conception was, um, nonconsensual. The moral of the story is if you do a DNA test be aware that if there are any skeletons in the closet they WILL fall out. In some cases it can turn out to be a blessing. In some cases……we have a frontrunner for Worst Boss of the Year. Heck, I think we can just call it now.

  49. M*

    I can’t imagine doing all these manipulative stunts to get someone fired? It would’ve still been crappy but given the CEBro’s reach, I feel like firing OP could’ve been much more directly straightforward without this much chaos.

    I wish OP the best in their next ventures and hope that they never run into those HR weirdos ever again.

    1. BluRae*

      Right? Like every company and their mother (brother?) are doing layoffs right now. Just play it cool and target OP in a larger RIF.

      I’m glad the CEO and HR weren’t that smart though so CEbrO got himself fired and OP was able to get generous severance.

      1. Ama*

        I was also thinking that when entire files disappear suspicions aren’t going to fall on the to-this-point solid employee (OP) who insists “no I definitely did the work it’s just gone” — people are going to think its a technical problem or an accident even if they don’t have reason to suspect as Katie did that someone was doing it deliberately. Like maybe you’d delete someone’s files if you wanted to make them think they were losing their mind, but not to make them look like a bad employee.

  50. Hiring Mgr*

    Wow that’s just crazy – it’s like the Tom Hanks/Charles Napier movie “Philadelphia” where they deleted Tom Hanks files for a big legal case as a pretense to fire him

  51. Helen*

    Holy dramatic shitballs, Batman. That sounds like something out of a Shondaverse show.

  52. Emily*

    LW, I am so so sorry for what you have been through. Reading “we just wanted to know what part of Ireland Grandma was from” broke my heart because that’s one of the reasons why my sister and mom did a DNA test.

    I am glad Katie had your back. Hopefully Katie can be a strong reference for you in the future. I think leaving was the right move due to all the drama, though none of it was your fault.

    I do hope the two awful HR goblins get fired. What absolutely horrendous people!

  53. Rosyglasses*

    I’m so sorry – on multiple levels – but again HR pops up as the evil goblins of the day, and it is so frustrating that those of us that are trying to really do good as HR folks and support both the teams for the benefit of the company get our knees kicked out by folks that have absolutely no business being in the HR world.

    1. I AM a Lawyer*

      Yes! It’s so disheartening because this is how people end up viewing HR when the rest of us are trying really hard to always do the right thing.

    2. Warrior Princess Xena*

      This is so true of most professions. For every terrible lawyer, doctor, accountant, etc there are a thousand other people doing their absolute best to get through the day and be good people. The clueless ones are bad enough, but the malicious ones destroy professions.

  54. OlympiasEpiriot*

    You must be EXHAUSTED.

    I get how you want to leave. But, your manager has you. Those HR unprofessionals will likely be gone. It is worth taking a step back and considering staying. CEBro is out. Your boss is M and went to bat in a huge way (I hope no one I ever manage is put in anything like this position, but, if they are, I hope I respond the way she did) for you. You’re valued and you deserve to hold the hill.

    Good luck in whatever decision you make and do what is best for you.

  55. September*

    I love how Katie was just like, “No, uh uh, come back inside”
    Sounds like she’ll be a great reference.

    1. Lyudie*

      Katie’s a hero. I can just imagine that scene. “Wait, where are you going?….WHAT oh hell no.” *drags OP back inside*

      1. Beebis*

        In my mind she stormed out raging, grabbed LW’s hand as they were about to get in their car and yanked them back inside

  56. Nameyname*

    Everyone’s talking about the work situation which is insane but am I reading it correctly that a woman hooked up with his dad with the explicit intention of getting pregnant so she and her partner could be parents??? Wildly unethical!! No wonder cebro has such a terrible stance on how to treat people.

    1. Lenora Rose*

      I’ve been getting a song I hate stuck in my head because of it. (About a woman who does this to a guy she meets).

    2. Sorrischian*

      That’s how I read it. I totally respect OP not wanting to dwell on the Jerry Springer of it all, but it definitely makes it clear that this is a multigenerational interpersonal nightmare. Good god.

    3. Meep*

      I read it as more as a “Baby Mama” (the movie) situation. She was a surrogate and used Dad as a sperm donor without his knowledge to get paid for the surrogacy.

    4. GreyjoyGardens*

      I can’t blame LW, or her own family, one bit for not wanting to touch this with a ten foot pole. The unethical ones are CEBro and his parents, not LW and hers. No wonder CEBro is the way he is, with those people bringing him up.

  57. Knitting Panda*

    Holy freakin shit. I am so sorry for all the drama you had to go through. I am speechless.

  58. MEH Squared*

    This is absolutely wild, OP. CEBro (which is genius, by the way) sounded like he might be a bit of a problem from your first letter, but not like this. And the two HR goblins–the less said about them, the better. I’m so sorry you had to go through all that, but I’m glad Katie had your back. I hope the severance is enough to tide you over for many months as you try to heal from this. What a horrible experience.

    P.S. You have a wonderful way with words. I just wanted to tell you that.

  59. LondonLady*

    None of this is OP’s fault. What a mess. I hope you come out of this head held high and onto better things with better people.

  60. Nook Nook*

    Jesus Christ. I know we were waiting for an update but…wow. Bananas. So sorry OP that this all happened.

    But a standing ovation to Katie for being a rock star of a boss and having your back through it all!

  61. Radski*

    All I want to say is BIG kudos to Katie for handling this so well. It seems she really had your back, OP.

  62. ASGirl*

    Sounds like OP’s dad was tricked when he unknowingly became a sperm donor. Unethical behavior must run in the family on CEBro’s mom’s side.

  63. Eve Polastri*

    Wow….just wow.

    Good for you for getting out even though it meant losing a job you loved.

    This seems lawsuit worthy.

  64. Rumpole's Old Bailey*

    Well blimey. Absolutely feel for poor OP in all of this, her poor family and boss Katie. Thank goodness for Katie and that CEBro was not actually the owner of the company

  65. Lenora Rose*

    I was curious about an update, but this was absolutely *NOT* the update I wanted. You did nothing wrong and were incredibly lucky (and well prepared — though not for this!) with having a backup, Katie was fabulous, and Holy Forking Shirtballs, the sabotage and the firing attempt and the… this is all the wrong all the time.

  66. LifeBeforeCorona*

    “I wish them the future they deserve.” Another excellent needlepoint project. That was a wild ride and you deserve to land firmly on your feet after all that.

  67. JustCourtney*

    This is an awful situation, OP. I’m so sorry. I hope things are so much better in your contract work and whatever you do in the future.

    Also, this bit of writing is just so perfect: “As a family we decided to support Dad and just drop it because we didn’t ask for the complete Jerry Springer package, we just wanted to know what part of Ireland Grandma was from.” I hope you at least write for fun in your down time, if not professionally.

  68. Keira*

    Even knowing how much absolute horsecrap happens in the workplace, I still have the hardest time believing any of this is real.

    1. Generic Name*

      I guess you’ve been lucky to never meet an unethical person who blameshifts and projects and has human tools more than willing to do their bidding. I hope you never do.

  69. Marie*

    “As a family we decided to support Dad and just drop it because we didn’t ask for the complete Jerry Springer package, we just wanted to know what part of Ireland Grandma was from.”

    This line made me laugh so hard. That plus “CEBro”, HA! I can tell you’re a funny one. Still, sorry about your experience and wish you the best going foward.

  70. RealPerson01*

    > As a family we decided to support Dad and just drop it because we didn’t ask for the complete Jerry Springer package, we just wanted to know what part of Ireland Grandma was from.

    I’m sorry, but this might be one of my favorite lines in the history of AAM

  71. El l*

    When the original letter aired, there was controversy about whether to reach out to the CEBro.

    Sounds like that didn’t happen – but it also sounds like it wouldn’t have mattered anyway. Sometimes trouble just finds you.

    My sympathies, OP, this is one of the weirdest reasons ever seen for “I have to find a new job.”

    1. Warrior Princess Xena*

      The CEBro hadn’t gone off the rails this spectacularly! I think most posters were assuming, at worst, some extra training or at worst being restricted for unfortunate but preexisting policies like “no blood family members in the chain of command”, not “let’s start on a none-too-subtle and targeted campaign of harassment that’s going to end with firings and misery all round”.

      OP, I’m so sorry this happened and wish you good fortune in your future jobs.

  72. Blah*

    OMG! To say this is a lot is an understatement. CEBro and his HR goblins are immature morons. You would think people ranked that high would have some kind of moral compass at least in a professional environment. Karma is a ****, it will catch up to them, just a matter of time.

  73. Meep*

    Wow. If there is ever a time to show him some sibling bonding it would be egging his house. Use soapy water balloons prior to the eggs for extra effect.

    I am proud of the way you handled this, though.

  74. zenocelot*

    OP, your dad sounds like a good egg…too bad someone else contributed that part to the CEO.

    May all of us have Katies in our lives, and may none of us need them. OP, I’m so sorry for this whole experience. We’re rooting for you, wherever you go next.

  75. Jedi Sentinel Bird*

    I would say this would be a strong contender for the worst possible company to work for and most toxic work environment of 2023. For one ,someone deleting your work to frame you and to get you fired. Two, the unprofessionalism of the HR department.Three, firing you loudly in front of a whole bunch of other people. Four, enticing you with a severance package. Most likely trying to keep you hush hush about this whole situation. Personally, I would consult a lawyer on this matter to see what could be done. I would never want anyone else to go through that if it was something I went through. Best of luck LW. I hope you can find a wonderful company to work for that has a positive environment and the HR isn’t filled with vipers and vitriol. This was totally disgusting what they did to you. That’s the unfortunate thing with HR is they are loyal to the company. Although if I was the owner of this company and they did all this BS I would be very angry and I’d probably look to see about getting other HR people and firing those ones

  76. Quake*

    Two strong Worst Boss contenders in two days. Plus I think we have a ringer for Worst HR.

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

    Two things:

    I *love* the moniker CEBro! And,

    Have you considered any possible legal action? I am so enraged that you were forced to give up a job you loved because of this ridiculousness and bullshit from HR.

    I wish you nothing but the best!!

  78. Jedi Bird*

    For some reason I tried to post a comment and it will not take it. I’m not sure if it was too long. Lw, I hope you’re able to find a much better company to work for. I don’t blame you for not wanting to ever work for that place again. Best wishes to you

  79. Escape from HNB*

    I’ll say up front that this opinion will upset some people, but the percentage of HR people that I have found to be incompetent, unresponsive, rude or plainly violating the law is very high compared to other professions. HR, heal thyself.

    1. Del Griffith*

      Is HR the yin to Police Officer’s yang? One is stereotypically women and the other men.

    2. rat pants*

      Stories like this and the truth that HR’s first concern is to protect the company, not its employees is why I am very leery of HR.

      1. Observer*

        Well, they shouldn’t be. Because if HR had actually been looking out for the company, this story would not have played out this way!

      2. Del Griffith*

        This reply drives me bonkers, TBH. Why would it be HR’s job to protect the employee? HR is paid for by the company and just like Finance, Legal, Marketing, and other shared services make recommendations in the best interest of the company. HR does, and should only be expected to, do the same.

      3. Snell*

        In this case, only the first half of your point applies. Here, HR was NOT protecting the company. Quite the opposite, really.

  80. Andrea*

    They didn’t try to do the right thing, they ponied up cash to secure a release of claims against them. I absolutely think you did the right thing accepting the severance and not going back, but they clearly weren’t on the ball about CEBro before this, just like they aren’t on the ball about the HR goblins now. So sorry for you having to suffer through this, OP, and I hope you find something better soon!

  81. Blue Horizon*

    ‘While some of this sounds flippant, there have been a lot of tears and stress and freaking out because this was a LOT.’

    Yeah… Yeah, we got that.

  82. Jake*

    I’m curious to know if the HR people who staged a public firing escaped without discipline. Who was actually deleting the work and was HR party to or had knowledge of the work sabotage? This company has some serious problems that likely go past the now former CEO.

    1. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

      Honestly, this baffles me. Also, public firings are NEVER okay, even when they are actually good terminations!

      1. anon today*

        One of the reasons companies try to avoid humiliation like perp-walking fired employees is that it increases the probability a disgruntled ex-employee will come back with a gun for revenge.

  83. Betsy S.*

    Oh this sucks and I hope you have the future YOU deserve too. Your genetic sibling sounds like a real loser. What sort of person assumes that discovering a sibling – a sibling with a known great track record at his own company – has to be responded to with such chaos?

    I’m glad your boss had your back and your sense of humor is intact.

    As an IT person, one thing I don’t see mentioned here is – there must have been at least one IT person in on it too. In any company this size , upper management would never have full access to desktops and storage – if for no other reason than you don’t want *any* one person to have that much permission to break things (other than IT, breaking things is our job!) And IMHO any ethical IT person who gets an order to break security has a responsibility to push back or escalate. So either they were threatened or bribed or in on it, or perhaps some very junior person was ‘just following orders’. If you’re in touch with the good manager, it’s something they might want to ask the VP to look into.

    If you’re in touch with good-boss, that VP

  84. Josette*

    As OP begins her job search, how should she explain to interviewers why she is searching for a new position? Previous columns have advised against too much detail about bad situations, and OP may want to protect her privacy. I can’t imagine what she should say.

    1. Kyrielle*

      I don’t mean this seriously, but OP could take six months off and then claim they were dealing with “a family emergency, since resolved”.

      No, but seriously, what DO you say when asked why you left a job, when you left for reasons this strange?

      1. Mid*

        I’d say family emergency as well. Adding in any more details about the CEO or a problematic work environment will likely bring up more questions and statements like that are, often unfairly, seen as a red flag about the candidate. Because the interviewer doesn’t know if the “toxic work environment” was actually toxic, or the candidate just didn’t like having to do their job or was asked to leave for bigoted comments or a bunch of other things.

        Always give the most neutral replies to “why did you leave your last position?”

    2. Brooks*

      Possibly something like, “I left because it had become a very problematic work environment,” accompanied by a expressive shrug.

      1. Pink Candyfloss*

        I would advise against that. It just raises questions in the minds of interviewers whether it was the work environment that was really problematic, or you…….. not an optimal answer. It is vague and unsupported, unless they start digging, and if they start digging (Can you be a little more specific about what you didn’t like?) then you will have to have more and more layers of answers in place.

    3. Redaktorin*

      Honestly, I’d admit I left because I discovered the CEO was my half-brother. I would be light and breezy about it, implying (but not actually stating) that nobody did anything wrong and we all just felt awkward/wanted to explore a sibling relationship without being coworkers/I couldn’t move up in the company now that we knew because of nepotism rules/whatever else might have still made me want to move on if CEBro were not a horrible person. Voila! Now you have a perfectly understandable reason to leave that does not hint at bizarre drama. Unusual, but it doesn’t make you look bad or mention any sort of fight.

      1. Kyrielle*

        Oh bravo! Assuming you can pull off the light and breezy part, this would work really nicely. Especially because no company is going to worry about that repeating at their company.

    4. El l*

      “I’m looking because there was drama at my last workplace. At the end of it all I was welcome to stay on but I found I could no longer continue.

      “It’s a story – but my interest right here and now is to focus on my future.”

    5. Office Gumby*

      OP appears to be well-versed in playing a quiet hand. I’d suggest she stick with a very superficial version of the truth: “There was no longer any place for me at my old job. I was given a lovely severance package and my previous manager Katie is more than happy to sing my praises. Please contact her as my best reference.”
      I’m hoping part of said severance package included a guaranteed glowing reference whenever anyone contacts the company–especially the HR dept. I certainly would have negotiated something like that as part of my severance package. Should word ever get out that someone from HR said anything less than what I negotiated in my severance package, fur would fly.
      While everyone is freaking out about nothing being done about the HR goblins, I can assure you, because the owners acted the way they did, and with functional staff like Katie, I’m confident that yes, something has been done about the HR goblins; we just might never hear about it.

  85. Just a Clarifier*

    I read this with my mouth agape. Oh my god, LW. Please take care of yourself. None of that sounds flippant. Major kudos to you for the CYA you had to pull, and major kudos to your leader for having your back. I’m in stunned disbelief. Hoping things pick up for you soon.

  86. Ann Johansson*

    Reading the post and then the comments made me think it might be an idea for the LW to start a career as an author. you express yourself in a way that is both captivating and entertaining. Also writing is good for you to get things out of the system after a trauma (that part might be for your eyes only).

  87. Zarniwoop*

    He couldn’t possibly go back and feel safe unless those two HR people got fired.

    I hope it was a big, big severance package.

  88. Zarniwoop*

    This situation is unique enough that’s if anyone at his employer reads this site they’ll know it was their company. That probably won’t improve employees’ trust in management, and especially HR.

    1. Caroline*

      You sound great, and it’s horrible that all of this happened to you for absolutely no good reason. I would contact a lawyer. They would be able to quickly determine if you have a case, but the company certainly broke the law and behaved deplorably. Shout out to Katie, at least. I wish you all the best. Side note—you’re a funny writer! I actually wonder if this story could be published in the Washington Post or a magazine, if you were interested. It sure is a wild one.

  89. idwtpaun*

    First of all, CEBro is hilarious.

    Second of all, I’m happy the CEO lost his job, but the HR people responsible should 100% be fired as well (possibly they were, I don’t expect the OP to have kept tabs on that).

    It’s incredible how inappropriately the CEO and his HR friends handled it every step of the way, and in all possible ways – human and business.

    OP, I’m so sorry this happened to you and that you lost a job you liked.

    1. Mid*

      I’d honestly argue that HR were far worse than the CEBro. The latter got shocking news that was deeply personal and clearly threw him for a loop. That’s a normal human reaction. HR enabled this shock to play out in the workplace by sending OP’s team the nepotism training, filing false write ups, and attempting to fire OP for no reason, instead of telling CEBro to take a hike or call a therapist to sort out his feelings.

      CEBro was absolutely wrong in how he handled this, but he also couldn’t have behaved how he did in the HR Goblins weren’t actively participating and encouraging this.

      1. Tiger Snake*

        I’m with you on this. While CEBro’s behaviour was not okay at any point, its easily understandable how he got there. Its easy to be very sympathetic to OP, and still a little sympathetic to CEBro at the distance of The Reader, because we can imagine how much of a bombshell for him and his family this was as well.

        HR’s job in this was to a) keep neopotism and abuses of power in check, but also b) to give CEBro the reality checks he needed as he was reeling. They should have been the ones to realise that VP needed to be brought up to speed and keep an eye on this, and they should have done it day 1.

        1. Candi*

          HR’s job is to protect the company. This kind of behavior goes in the opposite direction, ethically if not legally.

  90. Dr. Rebecca*

    Apropos, “I wish them the future they deserve” is IMMEDIATELY going into my lexicon, thank you OP.

  91. Wakehf*

    Thank you for sharing your story. I’m so sorry and hope the worst of the sting from it fades quickly. Thank you also for describing DNA family results as ranging from: just want to know where in Ireland grandma came from to the whole Jerry Springer experience. That made me laugh and I’m straight up stealing it for future use. Many internet hugs.

  92. PlainJane*

    Dear God. And I thought my unacknowledged half-family was bad. All they do is not answer letters. Though I haven’t ended up working with any of them. I may take this as a cautionary note.

    The DNA companies do have small print saying that you may learn things you don’t like. When my cousins started registering as second cousins and my aunt as a more distant relationship, I started looking around carefully. I’d spend my whole life knowing that my father’s family had no interest in me, but then I discovered that my mother’s father was not her father, and I chased around for ages just looking for a picture of the man who was actually my grandfather (my mother looks like him, actually… and he was her godfather, so I suspect that everyone involved knew about it). But I went from having half of myself unacknowledged and dodgy to having 75% of myself that way, and it was very weird. To some extent, I get the freak out that CEBro had–it is an utterly freaksome feeling to have the rug pulled out like that–but there is absolutely no reason to EVER behave that way toward a half-sib or new cousin. No one in that generation asked for it or has anything to do with it. And bringing family drama of any kind to work is insane. Then allowing it to escalate to weird attempts to frame a half-sibling that needed to be shot down Law and Order style????

    What the actual F…?

  93. Lizbrarian*

    I’ve been tempted to get DNA testing for various reasons, but I am firmly against doing it while my mom is still alive just in case my estranged dad has other children. This makes me not want to do it even more.

    1. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

      I have a single mom so my ancestry kit remains unopened on my coffee table going on over 2 years now. :(

      1. PlainJane*

        FWIW, I’m in the same boat. I do recommend it, even if it leads to nothing other than knowing, “Hey, my folk come from the county just south of where I grew up!” or “That rich snooty family that I wasn’t good enough for? Guess which of them did jail time. Recently.” ;p

  94. Ann & Nancy?*

    Wait. So CEObro’s origin story is the plot of Heart’s All I Want to do is Make Love to You.

  95. Elizabeth West*

    Holy sheet. HR goblins indeed. CEObro needs a massive kick in the arse.

    I am so sorry, OP. None of this was your fault or your dad’s. I hope you get the best job imaginable at quadruple the pay, with 100% better people and a pension, a gold watch, and a pony.

  96. AnotherLibrarian*

    I am so sorry OP. This sounds miserable. I am glad your boss had your back, the VP and the owners were reasonable people in this situation. I’m horrified at the CEO and HR. I’m so sorry your hunt to find out where your Grandmother was from turned into this nightmare. So many well wishes for your future.

  97. Appletini*

    There were some commenters to the original post who thought the CEO was justified. I’d love to hear what they think now.

      1. Hlao-roo*

        I just did a very quick scan of the comments on the original post, and if you search for top-level comments by “I’m fabulous” and “GreenShoes” you’ll find two.

        At the time of the first post, the CEO’s main actions were making OP’s location take an anti-nepotism training (nothing wrong with the training, a little suspicious that it was only OP’s location) and having OP’s boss pull them aside to ask if they had any questions about the anti-nepotism policy (again, the question is fine, targeting only OP is not). So, the justification was “CEO is a little freaked out by the news that he (unexpectedly) has a family member working at his company, maybe he’ll calm down now that OP has an anti-nepotism refresher.” Obviously and unfortunately, the CEO did not calm down.

  98. Old Admin*

    I didn’t read every comment, but I suspect OP’s former HR was specifically ordered to to fire her, instead of them being the evil instigators. That still would not be a good look for HR (public firing and shaming), but would explain a lot.

  99. Old Admin*

    A question – would the OP have a case against the former company even though she quit? As in constructive dismissal and harassment?

    1. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

      IANAL, but I don’t think she would, seeing as they did all of the right things to correct the situation. I would argue she MIGHT have a defamation case against CEBro and the HR Goblins, though!

  100. Old Admin*

    Does the OP have a case against her former company in spite of her quitting? As in constructive dismissal and harassment?

  101. Cat's Paw for Cats*

    My favorite employment lawyer, who is the one who explained the concept of tortious interference to me, would have a field day with this one.

  102. MassChick*

    Truth is stranger than fiction for sure. What a riveting update, and I’m sorry you ( LW) went through so much stress in such an unexpected manner. So great you had a Katie to counter CEBro and the evil HR Goblins.

  103. That_guy*

    First off, CEBro is genius.
    Second, I think you should contact an employment attorney and see what you can do on a legal front. There is no way those in HR should continue to be employed at that or any other company. I wonder if you could take action against them personally instead of the company.

  104. fort hiss*

    What was CEBro’s end game with this nonsense anyway? Like, what did he thinking firing this employee would solve? What logic led him to become so paranoid and sneaky so quickly? Does he think the employee is part of some conspiracy still now that he’s fired? Is he upset that his parents lied to him (presumably) and projecting? Did he think OP joined the company just to “get him’??? I need answers I’ll never get!

  105. Megan C.*

    The behavior from CEBro and his HR goons is truly unhinged! I’m so sorry it turned out this way. I’m glad your manager and the owners had your back but I don’t blame you at all for leaving the company. What an awful situation.

  106. danmei kid*

    “I wish them the future they deserve” is going to be my go-to from now on. LW you have been THROUGH IT and I am so glad you are out of there, sorry this happened, and hope your life moves ahead now in a much better direction.

  107. Greg*

    The HR rep loudly firing someone in the lobby to me, regardless of the circumstances, is an interesting choice. I’d probably let them go over that particular situation, before all the other stuff that gums this update up.

  108. Captain-safetypants*

    You know how they say every person is the hero of their own story? I desperately want to hear how CEBro would frame this situation in their own narrative. I wonder if they wrote about it on Reddit or something.

    1. anon today*

      “One of my lower-level employees sent me an anonymous message that she’s my half-sister. Obviously she’s going to demand half my estate and probably my father’s too. I tried to hint that I’m not giving in that easily by making her office do nepotism training. She didn’t get the hint, and wrote a nasty letter about me to an advice blog, so I had IT delete her files for a major project so she’d miss the deadline. Except, her boss went over my head to the owners and tried to get ME fired because Half-Sister won’t take a hint and find another job. I had my friends in HR perp-walk her out of the building so she would be too embarrassed to come back. AITA?”

  109. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

    Please tell me those HR reps were fired or reprimanded in some way.
    There are way too many like that in our profession that give the rest of us a bad name.

    Kudos to your boss for HAVING YOUR BACK. I imagine she’ll be a positive reference for you while you figure out your next stepsZ!

  110. Essess*

    Once OP has time to breathe and calm down from this… I hope they go scorched earth with any legal options they can do against the former CEBro! That’s what I’d do.

  111. Luna*

    I am equal parts happy that you are out of this mess and taking some downtime from work and also horrified for you that it ended up this way!

  112. Jessica Fletcher*

    What an unsatisfying end. The CEO is wealthy and will probably face zero professional repercussions after he probably immediately walks into another job with no effort. The HR people keep their jobs and get to harass people in the future if they feel like it. LW was last seen being loudly fired and escorted out by security, so everyone besides Katie thinks LW did something terrible. LW lost a great job that he loved, his professional reputation at that company is forever damaged, and CEO and HR will probably bad mouth him in his field.

    I know LW is exhausted, but I agree that I hope he pursues legal action against the CEO. He lost his job and his professional reputation was damaged.

    1. CertifiedSpinbackProfessional*

      This is a comment I haven’t really seen and that I sadly agree on. I’m glad LW is taking time for themselves and prioritizing their mental health, and I would love to be optimistic and believe that CEBro will self destruct. But it really feels like a garbage situation where the bad guys win having trashed LW’s career and reputation. I don’t have much hope that any true justice has been done.

      Even if LW tries to find work elsewhere, if the industry is small enough, HR and CEBro could use their influence to ensure doors are closed after every interview, and coworkers who saw the public firing will spread all sorts of rumors until the prevailing narrative is one in which the LW is a monster. I don’t even think the bullying and harassment is over, if CEBro decides to blame LW for getting fired.

      I think that it’s wise to at least consult a lawyer in advance to protect themselves in case CEBro continues to harass LW or even preemptively sue.

  113. commentarian*

    Welp, I think we can call the Horrible Boss of 2023 award early! (And the Great Boss of 2023 award for Katie, who did a really incredible job handling this). So sorry that this happened to you, OP.

  114. JustMe*

    You know, knowing that OP’s father was an “unwitting donor” puts some of this into perspective–maybe CEBro only recently discovered that the person who raised him was not his father and this exacerbated some personal issues he was already having. None of this is okay, but it sort of explains why there was such a huge reaction from CEBro and co.

    OP, if you’re applying for future jobs, I feel like you could easily explain that you left your job because you were working for your brother and ended up feeling like it was a mismatch. Simple, doesn’t raise alarm bells, and it’s technically not wrong! Definitely ask Katie and your former company for positive references as well.

    1. bunniferous*

      There is NO EXCUSE for his behavior. I found out myself that my dad was not my dad and altho that really does rock your world in every way there is STILL no excuse for what this man did. NONE.

  115. Sindy*

    Absolutely buckwild OP, but otoh I’m glad that you had a solid boss who realized what was happening and protected you as best she could. She was there for you when you needed her and it made a huge difference for you personally. Good luck with the freelancing, you’ve earned it.

    I’m imagining CEO Bro sitting there with you drive open sniping your files. It’s wild. Who has the time for this kind of nonsense

  116. Veryanon*

    Holy crap, that was a wild ride. I’m so sorry this happened to you OP. Hopefully better days are ahead.

  117. LT*

    This is up there with the LW who came from Twitter, except in that case we already knew going into it that the CEO was an unhinged maniac

  118. e271828*

    LW, you have handled this mess professionally and gracefully, and I hope you and Katie stay in touch.

    Also, hope your family did find out what part of Ireland Grandma was from!

  119. Kiwi Leslie Knope*

    I’m surprised the investigation didn’t end up getting rid of the HR goons as well.

  120. Rosewolf*

    I really, really want to know what CEBro’s Mom said to OP’s Dad, since it appears she initiated the conversation. Did she call to apologize for the way CEBro was handling the whole thing? Did she take CEBro’s side and express resentment at OP for. . . I guess, existing? Or did she just call to confess that yeah, she had his baby – on purpose, on the sly. . .and what? I just wonder about the whole tone, more than the content, of that conversation? Apologetic? Defiant? Annoyed? Sheepish?

  121. Kesha*

    I am so sorry this happened to you! As someone who worked in HR for many years, I’m absolutely horrified that you had to go through such a stressful experience. I’m glad you’re taking some time to detox, because this whole thing sounds like it was an absolute nightmare. Kudos to you for getting through it and taking care of yourself.

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