update: HR won’t do anything about a coworker who’s angry about my weight loss

Remember the letter-writer whose HR wouldn’t do anything about a coworker who was angry about her post-surgery weight loss? Here’s the update.

All I have to say for this update is hold on to your bananapants.

I saw a lot of comments asking where management was in all this, so I’ll address that first. My boss, “George,” was getting ready to retire while this was going on. George is roughly my grandfather’s age, so this entire situation bewildered both him and his replacement, who he was training at the time. Both of them met with Aubrey’s boss, because believe me I was documenting everything she did from the jump, and they all assured me that Aubrey would be dealt with. None of them recommended the red flag mediation, that was HR’s idea. I was given details of the meeting where Aubrey ranted about me and it was horrible, but apparently Aubrey was asked to leave by her own boss while several other employees told her to stop, so managerially and in the office in general, people were trying to rein her in from many different angles.

HR is where the ball dropped and dropped hard. This company just has a poor HR structure and bad entry to mid-level HR. When Aubrey’s boss referred her to HR regarding her negative behavior, HR took it upon themselves to consider it a mediation situation (which, remember, at our company can go against your bonus for the year) despite communication from George, his replacement, and Aubrey’s boss saying I wasn’t in the wrong. When George found out about this, he spoke to the HR generalists’ manager, who said that my “absence probably caused a lot of strain and extra work for Aubrey” when Aubrey’s not even credentialed to do what I do. Management made a point to tell me how baffled and upset they were with HR’s handling of the situation every time something came up. My company mentor was also a huge support during this time until she decided to take another job elsewhere.

When my doctor extended my ADA work-from-home accommodation a second time, HR responded by telling me my attendance was a “concern.” I emailed their boss’s boss, the HR director, and asked for clarification. He said I hadn’t come in to the office so of course my attendance was a problem, I reiterated I had medical documentation stating that if WFH wasn’t available then they could refer to the FMLA documentation my medical team also sent. He replied that medical documentation, including both FMLA and ADA reasonable accommodations, “doesn’t hold much weight” with the company.

That’s when I got a lawyer. Aubrey as a problem kind of drifted to the background when HR started their “medical documentation doesn’t matter” campaign. On my lawyer’s recommendation, I contacted the HR executive team, which is where this whole cursed situation came to light. (And I did check with my lawyer about emailing this update and they laughed and said I couldn’t leave people hanging after all that.)

I called the chief HR officer (which for my company is going over like five people’s heads, but I did it with George’s and my new boss’s blessings), who is the head of HR, and asked why my attendance was an issue when I had reasonable ADA documentation. She had no idea what I was talking about so I filled her in on all of it — including the mediation meeting and Aubrey’s harassment and the HR director (her direct report) saying medical documentation didn’t hold any weight with the company. She was speechless and asked to meet with me and my lawyer as soon as possible. My lawyer hardly had to do anything during the meeting because the CHRO was horrified at everything I told her. I’ve never actually seen steam come out of someone’s ears, but if it was physically possible it would have happened here. My lawyer didn’t need to say a word but just nodded and smiled when the CHRO offered an extended paid medical leave so I could handle my recovery and said Aubrey constantly sending me fitness plans would be “dealt with swiftly.”

I didn’t hear anything out of Aubrey for a long time but I did hear through some gossip channels that the HR staff involved in the red flag meeting/threatening to write me up were let go. Aubrey wasn’t fired because they believed she was misled by HR, so I understand that part even if I don’t agree with it, but she was on a tight PIP for a while. Then she showed up at my house.

Now we move from bananapants to full-on banana ensemble. I’m still on leave and out of the blue, Aubrey showed up at my door on a weekend with two other women in tow and the commenters guessed it: she’s in very deep with an MLM (or maybe a cult, I can’t be sure at this point). Aubrey came over to “demonstrate” some workout techniques and give me some diet “supplement” samples and discuss a “career opportunity” because she was worried about my “physical and professional health.” She didn’t make it past my mother-in-law, who has been a godsend right now. My mother-in-law made it clear where Aubrey could stick her demonstration and they left in a hurry. I notified my lawyer and the CHRO and suffice it to say, Aubrey is now a full-time “wellness coach.”

I’m happy I went with my gut and got a lawyer because the company has changed so drastically over the last year with the toxic HR department encouraging behavior like Aubrey’s and spreading false information about medical leave and time off, the company is almost unrecognizeable. Also with my boss and mentor both gone, I don’t know if I’m going to go back once I’m medically cleared. The company is also undergoing a restructuring right now and my department may end up distributed between other parts of the company or even other parts of the state. I have been looking at jobs and doing some resume drafting for a full-time remote position since it feels like it might be a better fit. But many thanks to the comment section and all the support!

{ 707 comments… read them below }

  1. mr egg*

    Every line of this was. Uh. Banana-pants. I’m so glad you got a lawyer and that you’re looking for a way out! Hoping you’ll find something soon. I can’t believe she showed up at your HOUSE….

    1. The Ghost of Madeleine Wool*

      There was A LOT going on there.

      Aubrey, uh what the hecking heck and HR just… what? What on earth?

      Just sorry that the OP had all that stress on top of all the other stress.

      1. Bigger-the-hair…*

        Now if we could only find out what happened with the LW who was dealing with her director’s husband who wanted to attend an event despite the husband’s arrest for child pornography possession charges…my life would be complete!

          1. The Ghost of Madeline Wool*

            Every time anyone says that they have faith and trust in humanity, I am going to silently point at the above post (or one of the many, many other examples available on this blog alone)

          1. Hlao-roo*

            Search for “board member’s husband should not attend an event for children, boss calls people names, and more” from January 19, 2023. I’ll post a link in a follow-up comment.

    2. anne of mean gables*


      I have a hard time imagining either Aubrey or the lower-level HR at this company existing independently. The fact that they existed together at the same company, resulting in a doom spiral of aggressive incompetence, is mind-blowing. I am just thrilled (and in awe) that OP made it out of this relatively unscathed.

        1. EPLawyer*

          What I was thinking too. HR got sucked into Aubrey’s MLM/Cult and couldn’t understand why LW didn’t want to play with them too. So she must be in the wrong. If she just took the supplements and worked out, well the medical stuff wouldn’t matter (hence the no importance part).

          1. Em*

            OP!! I am so sorry you had to deal with this outrageous behavior but THANK YOU for this update! I’m extremely glad you stood up for yourself and got through to the right people. And very glad to hear you have supportive family rallying around you right now- recovery is hard! Here’s hoping the job offers start rolling in once you’re ready to get back to work.

        2. Festively Dressed Earl*

          The cult is actually called the Doom Spiral of Aggressive Incompetence. How did you guess?

          1. Glitter is everything*

            Doom. Spiral. Of. Aggressive. Incompetence.

            OMG, that’s the best phrase I’ve read in a while! Lolololol

        3. somanyquestions*

          I think Aubrey’s whole thing might have been obsession with the MLM & how she lost a customer. If the LW wanted to lose weight Aubrey could have sold her a bunch of stuff. Also Aubrey could help her sell weight-loss products too, so many things she missed! LW having surgery was like someone stealing from her, in Aubrey’s world.

          1. Anonariffic*

            Not only did LW steal from her, in Aubrey’s mind, she also actively sabotaging Aubrey’s future sales to all the other potential customers at the office. LW lost a dramatic amount of weight very quickly and visibly without using any of her snake oil- she’s showing all of their coworkers that those fitness plans and supplements aren’t actually the One and Only True Way to Wellness.

          2. They Don’t Make Sunday*

            After marveling at your comment, I’m thinking that if OP had disclosed her medical condition in effort to shut Aubrey up, Aubrey would have doubled down and decided that OP had brought the tumor on herself through her non-wellness-optimized lifestyle. All roads lead to MLM.

              1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

                Sadly I have as well. I do not miss them either.

                The only positive was that I was in a college class with my “all roads lead to the MLM” person – so they were easier to get away from. Also that professor didn’t let anybody ever talk in class…….

      1. Hills to Die on*

        Banana Ensemble: I totally envisioned a yellow head-to-toe suit with dramatic brown seams and a tall, pointy hat ending in a banana stem. Jacket lapels look like peels. Yellow shoes that are broad, flat, and sticking out 12″ past the feet.

        1. Anon for this*

          The company I used to work at had a holiday event that specified tropical attire in the invitation. I wore a banana costume.

            1. Adelheid*

              Now I’m imagining someone completely naked wearing only one flip-flop (= thongs in Australia).

            2. Thongster*

              In Australia, a thong is an item of footwear. That takes your comment to a whole different level.

            1. Seeking Second Childhood*

              The shoes however stylish, are problematic for the manufacturing floor and disposable booties are recommended.

        2. Azure Jane Lunatic*

          An update to the Lawn Tantrum, the Banana Ensemble, performed by a chorus line of at least three people, all wearing that outfit.

          (Also, if you have not yet seen the 2022 Eurovision contest entry from Norway, do please look up Subwoolfer’s “Give That Wolf a Banana”; it is extremely Banana Ensemble and much more wholesome than the bananapants on display from Audrey.)

        3. mymotherwasahamster*

          Though I ultimately got to the sartorial banana factor, the very first place my mind went was a chamber orchestra of various human-sized bananas playing string instruments…

      2. Katherine*

        Yep. Not content with mere banana pants, she put on a banana shirt, a banana jacket, a banana hat, and finished it off with banana shoes and a cute banana clutch!

          1. Le Sigh*

            Sigh. That is going to be in my head for the next three months. And that’s the only line I know.

            1. My Dear Wormwood*

              the rest:
              bananas in pyjamas
              are chasing teddy bears
              then on Tuesday they all try
              to catch them unawares

      3. Fishsticks*

        Honestly, I thought that HR people were friends or super friendly work buddies with Aubrey (or regular customers) because of how they handled. It’s not ALWAYS true, but about 80% of the time when someone sends in a letter where HR acts this poorly, it turns out it’s because HR is buddy-buddy with the bananapants person and trying to protect them.

        1. gmg22*

          My immediate thought as well — I was hoping that the CHRO looked further into why her department handled this so badly, and wouldn’t be surprised at all if that was what she found.

          1. Random Bystander*

            I suspect that is what happened, and because CHRO is a professional, the only thing LW knows is that those people have been let go.

            1. Winston*

              But they had enough information to let them go already so I don’t think they needed to seek out any more facts.

        2. Bern Notice*

          That was the case in the older, but equally bananapants story about the person whose super spicy lunch was stolen by a co-worker, and they nearly lost their job over it because HR decided that the thief was intentionally poisoned by the lunch that they STOLE. Turned out that the lunch thief was literally “in bed” w/the HR person.

          1. Totally Minnie*

            Wasn’t it also the case with the coworker who threw a used pregnancy test at a coworker?

        3. getaway_girl*

          At the very least, I was wondering if the HR people OP was dealing with also wanted to know the details of the weight loss. I’ve been trying to remember what I had to provide on my FMLA forms when I was undergoing treatment for a medical condition. I don’t think there was anything specific listed. If that’s the case, it makes sense that they’d want OP to share the details with Aubrey to shut her up, because then their own curiosity would have been satisfied as well.

          Good for everyone who works there that they’re gone, regardless.

      4. Lion*

        I guess it stands to reason if they both exist in the world, they will attract one another. Who else would employ an Aubrey?

      5. Berkeleyfarm*

        Once people like that find their enablers, they tend to dig in. And some people who might be more inclined to reason in a better environment go along with “the culture”.

        Aubrey is also an example of what in the abuse recovery communities we shorthand as “don’t go to therapy with your abuser, because they will weaponize the language”. Probably not her first go-around. Or if she had a buddy buddy in HR, they might have suggested it.

        (Buddy buddy may not have been in the same MLM, but the thing is close enough to the whole “weaponizing diet culture”/fake wellness that a lot of HR people like.)

    3. Wombats and Tequila*

      How did Aubrey even find out where OP lives? That information couldn’t have been obtained legally.

      1. JSPA*

        uh, google? Sure, you may have to pay $5 for the address if you’re not very good at repeated searches, or if the name is common.

        1. EPLawyer*

          I don’t think she bothered searching. I am willing to bet actual real money she got it from HR.

          1. JSPA*

            While certainly not impossible…and on this thread, the regular rules about what one can and cannot treat as fair game, clearly don’t apply…this IS still arguing beyond facts. It’s not rude to the LW, which makes it marginally better, but it’s still speculation, in a world where internet searches and public databases exist. Not pointing this specifically at you, EPLawyer, as there’s a lot of it going around, but I had to pick someplace to drop this in.

        2. Capybarely*

          Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should! I mean, if I need a friend’s address, I do no go looking for their property tax records.

          I do boggle in horror that the best case scenario here is that a nHR person believed Aubrey’s request for the OP’s address was innocent.

          1. Observer*

            Of course.

            That’s not the point though. The point is that while she could have gotten the address from HR, she could also have gotten it with no involvement from HR.

      2. OrigCassandra*

        If OP owns a house, address information may be freely available from property-tax rolls online. Mine certainly is.

        1. Burger Bob*

          It wasn’t so long ago that we were all listed in the local phone book, unless you specifically opted out. I remember looking up all kinds of people’s addresses in the phone book when I was a kid.

          1. Seeking Second Childhood*

            Yep. Home address & phone for our state senator was in the local phone book.

      3. rayray*

        Unfortunately, it can be pretty easy to track people down. Many databases require payment, but I know of one that is free and I have searched myself and family members and it only takes seconds to find addresses, phone numbers, and known relatives/associates. You can put in a request to remove your info which they will do, but who knows how many of these sites exist.

      4. Ellis Bell*

        If you’re really motivated to find someone, it’s not difficult; I get the impression that the business geniuses at Aubrey’s cult thought the OP’s “miraculous weight loss” could be monitized well enough to make lots of research worth doing. Even if OP is way off grid and private with her address, all they would have had to do is follow her home from work one day. Once Aubrey started to get the impression she could be fired she didn’t think “Oh maybe I should keep hold of my job and be a decent person”. She thought “Now I really have to find her address in case I lose access to her at work.”

        1. Ultra Anon*

          If she’s in an MLM and really motivated she could have paid for some mailing lists and just looked her up.

      5. Parakeet*

        At least in the US, this is trivial to find, completely legally and usually for free, for almost anyone over the age of 25 or so (regardless of whether they rent or own). Knowing about the ways that tech can be used to stalk and harass is part of my job, and I’ve done demonstrations at trainings to show a bunch of horrified people how easy it is.

        1. Iris Eyes*

          Have you been able to get a sense why people think their address would be private? I mean even if you are only in your late 20s you still lived during a time when a book full of everyone in your entire city showed up at your door. Its so illogical to assume that a world where the phone book went digital would make it less searchable not more.

          1. Catwhisperer*

            Phone books stopped being distributed in most places in the early 2010s and a lot of places stopped even earlier. I’m in my mid-30s and the last time I remember getting a phonebook delivered was 20 years ago. If someone’s in their late 20s, they were still in elementary or middle school when phonebooks stopped being a thing. There’s also been more of a push towards internet privacy, with GDPR, DSA, and other laws globally.

            1. Goldfeesh*

              I got a new phone book in the mail three weeks ago. They’re still a thing in Iowa at least.

              1. Willow Pillow*

                I got one in northern Canada… I swear I opted out in the past. The cover lists a website to opt out, so I visit it… and the instructions are to print out a generic, 8.5×11″ sheet that says something like “please no Canada Post community mail” and put it on your mailbox. Seriously?

              2. Bob-White of the Glen*

                Yep, just got my new one. But I don’t have a house phone, just a cell phone with an out of state area code, so I am not in it.

                But can find my name and address just by looking up either of them at the county’s website. Which does not make me a happy camper as I have a pseudo stalker (keeps annoying me, but I am not afraid of him, just want nothing to do with him.) There’s really is no privacy left, so always assume anyone can get your address at any time and protect yourself accordingly.

          2. Have GNU, Will Travel*

            Back when phonebooks were still a thing, my father was practicing surgeon and paid to be unlisted. If patients can look up your number, they call you directly at 2am instead of through the service that actually routes them to whoever is on-call.

            One of the reasons I didn’t go into medicine was watching Dad deal with on-call, and ironically I landed in tech where I’ve spent the last couple decades being in an on-call rotation.

            At least when I’m woken up in the middle of the night it’s just because a server is down and the company is losing money, not because someone is having post-surgical complications.

          3. Irish Teacher.*

            I think it’s more likely the lack of control people have over the info nowadays. As others have said, in the days of phone books, you could choose to be unlisted. Or you could just use your first initial or be listed under a housemate’s name rather than yours. I remember many “looking for x’s number, but it’s under her husband’s name. What is his name again?” Plus, they were only distributed locally. So you had a pretty fair idea who could look you up and who couldn’t, you knew exactly what information they could find and you had a certain degree of control over it. None of that is true today.

      6. ItIsWhatItIs*

        Yeah, you don’t even need to pay. it’s insanely easy to find address info on the internet, even if you rent.

      7. wordnerd28*

        I doubt this is the case with OP because her company is clearly much larger than mine, but my company maintains a list of all employee home addresses that anyone within the company can access.

        I’m aware that something like this is super gross and weird, but unfortunately it does exist. I think my company’s excuse is some ‘we’re all family here’ garbage.

        1. LifeBeforeCorona*

          At one of my first jobs, the addresses and phone numbers of all employees were distributed to everyone “just in case” contact outside of work hours was required. It took several determined (women of course) to get the list restricted to a “need to know” basis.

          1. wordnerd28*

            Our company is majority women and our CEO is a woman so you would THINK this list never would have been implemented, but here we are. *rage screams*. Luckily I should be on my way out soon.

      8. Pam Poovey*

        It’s not hard. Some companies even have directories she could have accessed while she was still there.

      9. Essess*

        I went to google and typed in my first and last name plus my city and the word “address”. My actual address came up in the search result summary page as the second hit without even clicking on any links.

      10. Lexie*

        Where I used to work the staff address list was stored in a share folder where anyone could access it.

      11. Nancy*

        You can easily find someone’s address by searching their name online. Takes 2 minutes.

        It has never been difficult to find a person’s address, whether online or using a paper phone book.

        1. Blue Balloons*

          I just spent 20 minutes searching to find my address online, without success. I don’t know if that’s because I’m in the UK and things are just less private in the USA, or if I’m an aberration, or what? But my address is certainly not searchable in any straightforward way – I tried using my full name, added date of birth, used three browsers, Incognito/Private browsing, multiple search engines, and nothing.

          Some people’s addresses may be easily searchable online, but it is clearly not the case that this is true for everyone.

      12. win*

        You can quite easily find out someone’s address by simply…googling their name and town. It’s also on the county real estate records, which are easily found online as well. It’s not illegal information.

    4. Magenta Sky*

      My only disappointment was that there was no police report filed when she showed up at the house. That’s stalking behavior, at that point.

      Though the mother in law may well have been more frightening.

      1. EPLawyer*

        I love LW’s mother in law. Too bad we didn’t get an exact quote, although it probably should not be repeated.

      2. Observer*

        I think that the OP and their MIL were wise not to go to the police at that point. They DID report it to HR, so there is some documentation if the need it going forward. But getting police involved can be stressful and not necessarily useful.

        1. AnonToday*

          Sometimes, even when I don’t think the police will be useful, I want the other person to have that moment of stress. (I’m thinking of the road rage guy who followed me for 30 miles. The police were like, “We can go tell him someone reported him for erratic driving” and I said, I don’t think it will fix his attitude, but do it anway ’cause no one likes cops showing up unexpectedly. )

          1. There You Are*

            I had someone stalk me online and threaten me, “I know where you live and I’ll take care of you,” when I pointed out that her Ponzi scheme “MLM” posts encouraging others to give her $1000 that she’ll turn into $10,000 in just a few months went against Nextdoor rules.

            I called the police. They came and took my statement. I said, “From what I’ve been able to find online, she just dropped out of [college name] and lives at home with her immigrant parents, who don’t speak much English. If you could just let her parents know what she’s up to online, while you’re in uniform, I think that’ll put a stop to her bothering me.”

            He knocked on the door, talked to the parents, and that was that.

        2. Festively Dressed Earl*

          It can be, and probably OP doesn’t need that. OTOH, the police showing up might finally have dropped the clue anvil on Aubrey. She’s probably pulling this same BS on other poor souls.

          1. Observer*

            It’s kind of hard to believe that anything will drop the clue anvil one someone who thinks that it makes sense to go to the house of the person who you harassed and harass them some more, while being on a PIP for harassing them in the first place.

            This is someone who is just delusional.

          2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

            Sadly getting fired didn’t clue Aubrey in. I doubt there is a large enough clue anvil out there for someone as oblivious as Aubrey seems to be.

      3. Magenta Sky*

        It depends on whether or not it progresses to a restraining order, in which case, the earlier the police are involved, the better.

        So far, at least, that seems to have been unnecessary, but at the point where she showed up at her victim’s house, it would not have been an unreasonable fear. (And a talking to by the cops might be a wake up call to derail the stalking.)

      4. Glitter is everything*

        I want to grow up to be that MIL.

        But, yeah, I’m wondering why there’s no mention of a police report and a restraining order.

    5. PurpleShark*

      How did she even get your home address even? I’m no conspiracy theorist but is she in with the HR department to that degree?????

      1. lyonite*

        Depending on how you bought your house, it’s actually not that hard to find someone’s home address just by googling.

        1. Siege*

          My mother’s address comes up (property tax rolls) when you search my name because our names are very uncommon. This isn’t really something I’d spend time worrying about; it’s too easy to have a non-nefarious way of getting in touch with someone.

        2. Parakeet*

          You don’t have to have bought it either. In most (though not all) cases, it’s just as easy to find renters’ addresses (in the US). I mentioned this in another comment that seems to have landed in the moderation queue, but knowing, and explaining to others, how tech can be used in this way (and how to guard against it) is part of my job.

        3. Liz*

          I once accidentally found a minor actress’s home address and the schools her kids attended, just via Google’s suggested related searches. I was like, “I just wanted to know which Boston Public episodes she was in? This seems bad?”

      2. Qwerty*

        The internet makes it really easy to find this info unfortunately. Phone numbers too. Not just current address, but previous ones – I don’t know where my apartment was for my summer internships in college, but the internet was able to suggest it for me.

      3. Kevin Sours*

        It’s generally not that hard to find somebody’s address if you are willing to put in the time.

      4. Worldwalker*

        Well, back in the day when they used to deliver big books with everyone’s name, address, and phone number in them to every person in town — for free! — it would be easy to find my address. There were only two with my last name, and the other one was my parents. There might be a whole page full of Smiths, but only one or two Humperdincks, and if the other one is named Engelbert, that’s not the one you want.

        Most of that’s online now.

      5. sherlock*

        I know paper Yellow Pages/phone books haven’t been around in a while but did everyone somehow forget about them altogether??? Did they forget that the Yellow Pages also had a section called the White Pages that was residential addresses and phone numbers????? And your info was published by default unless you paid for an unlisted phone number????

        There’s nothing nefarious here, let’s stop acting like we’ve never interacted with other humans or left the house before.

          1. Violet*

            They are now available on the website by the same name where you can look up anyone’s address by name and state of residence (don’t even have to have the state if it’s not a common name)

      6. White Squirrel*

        In some states your address is easily searchable if you have any type of professional license (from a doctor or a nurse to a manicurist).

      7. Powercycle*

        Not hard where I work. Home addresses are on our teams’ emergency contact list. And since many of us WFH full or part time, that info is pretty pertinent.

    6. Richard Hershberger*

      Lawyering up often brings clarity to a situation, even when all the information was already available and the lawyer barely needs to do anything. Their mere presence changes the perception of the problem, moving it from a distraction to be dismissed to something that actually needs to be dealt with.

      1. Sara without an H*

        Ditto. People often complain about the cost of legal advice, but it’s usually much, much cheaper than the cost of letting the situation fester.

        A relative of mine found that the lawyer’s presence wasn’t actually necessary — a crisply worded letter on law firm letterhead had miraculous results.

        1. Overit*

          A relative found out a few years ago that just water cooler goasip about a lawyer being hired netted them big money in a post-termination settlement.
          Relative was 63 and had worked for Big Corporation for years. His boss retired and BC offered Relative the job. He turned it down. He explained that he planned to retire at 65, so he didn’t think it was fair to the team to take the position, but he would be Interim Director until they hired someone. After 2 months, they hire New Guy who on his 1st day tells Relative he should retire now as he is “too old and in his way.”
          Within 1 week, Relative has been terminated with HR, unbelievably, telling him point blank that the reason is that New Guy thinks he is too old. Relative seeks legal advice and 2 lawyers tell him he has no case. I suggest he let his old team know he is shopping for lawyers and let the gossip do its work.
          Old team then gossips at work about the lawyers Relative has seen. Within 2 weeks, Big Corporation has contacted him with a 6 figure settlement. Relative refers them to a 3rd lawyer and negotiates for even more.
          All from water cooler gossip.

          1. Bunny Lake Is Found*

            What is with these HR people literally confirming that they are breaking employment law? They and the folks who put, in writing, they wanted people to lie under oath all need to someone to sit them down and explain to them they are clearly not qualified to break the law in their company’s, or their own, name.

            1. Tio*

              I’ve found for a lot of people dealing with laws, the laws are so often black and white that when they THINK they know something, they treat it as their knowledge is absolute, and leads them to be foolish.

          2. Environmental Compliance*

            I once got movement by merely including a business card from a lawyer when I opened the file at the meeting.

            Context: I was denied to put my husband on my health insurance by my employer. We had just had a qualifying life event and applied. As in, our exact situation was listed as an example in the regulation of a qualifying life event. HR denied me twice. The third time we went in person to meet and I had the regulation printed, highlighted, my forms filled out (again), and a business card printout from a lawyer all on the table. Oddly enough my request was then escalated to the director of the department who approved everything. I hadn’t even talked to the law firm. I had found a business card contact on their website and printed it out.

        2. A lawyer*

          I was a brand new baby lawyer and didn’t even have a job, but I wrote a mean demand letter on behalf of my then-boyfriend (some state agency was taking forever to approve his licensing application that he needed for his career) with a lot of legalese and cites to statutes and signed my name with an “Esq.”, and he got a response the very next day. One of the few times law school has paid off.

      2. MigraineMonth*

        It seems to have a lovely focusing effect on the parts of a company’s conduct that are illegal.

      3. goddessoftransitory*

        Yep. A lawyer says “this is so serious I paid my own money to hire this person to take care of it.”

      4. The Prettiest Curse*

        I managed to get my ex-employers to move me away from the a-hole who was bullying me simply by saying “I know this person is a serial bully, some day one of their victims is going to lawyer up and then it’s going to get really unpleasant.” All 3 senior staff in that meeting simultaneously looked shocked and horrified. It was quite something. Even the threat of some other hypothetical person lawyering up can work!

        1. Chilipepper Attitude*

          I used AAM language when I thought that religious discrimination was being used to not hire an internal candidate for a new role. I said I was just concerned that it looked like a pattern on OUR part (them, it was them!) and that I did not want US (them, it was all them!) to get sued or get negative publicity.

          They hired the person.

          1. The Prettiest Curse*

            Yeah, that was exactly how I approached the conversation. I told them I was protecting the organisation (from the hypothetical future person suing) by telling them about the bullying. (They were a nonprofit and didn’t really have HR, which made them extra-alarmed.) Nobody wants to get sued, so appealing to fear of being sued can be an effective strategy.

      5. Alan*

        Yep. I was having a dispute with a government agency that kept blowing me off while simultaneously threatening me. Finally got a lawyer who requested a hearing and bam, all of a sudden they started paying attention and conceded that they were wrong.

    7. Worldwalker*

      Holy. Mooing. COW!

      Yeah, this incident — or string of them — has banana sneakers and a pointy yellow hat.

    8. goddessoftransitory*

      This could be a small but terrifying subset of AAM at this point: “So and So showed up at my house/drove by many many times.”

    9. Starbuck*

      How did she even know where the LW lived?? I’m thinking there was collusion with someone in HR, it’s the only thing that makes sense

      1. Violet*

        Try googling your own name plus the city where you live. If you’re in the US and your name is a touch more unique than John Smith, it should come up somewhere in the first few search results. We used to get it in print form as the White Pages of the Yellow Pages book. It’s just online now. No conspiracy theories needed

    10. Erin*

      I can’t get beyond Aubrey showing up at this person’s house to do a wellness MLM pitch. That’s just….wow.

      I also had to read the part where the company doesn’t honor medical leave/medical accommodations a few times. What in the world?

      Just so much WTF/SMH happening here, I am so sorry.

    11. Shiny Penny*

      My jaw isn’t even on the floor, it dropped all the way to the basement. Just wow. So glad OP got a lawyer and escalated this to the top. It’s so hard to imagine so many of the offenders never paused and thought they could be in the wrong. I need a moment to recover and I can’t even imagine what living that experience was like.

    12. Bigger-the-hair…*

      Got an idea… Let’s crowdsource the funds to turn this saga into a comedy/drama webtv show! Like, how can it not be popular AND successful?!

      Who’s in? JK!

    13. Unclepeepoop*

      This is one of the juiciest and most satisfying updates of all time. But also OP, you’re obviously so smart and capable. Get out of there!!

    14. JessaB*

      Forget Banana Pants, this was the entire Chiquita orchard, with an additional half of Dole’s. There are not enough bananas for these pants.

    1. Just Another Zebra*

      Me either. My bananapants noped out right around “and then she showed up at my house”.


      1. MigraineMonth*

        Yeah, I had foolishly relaxed my hold at that point. I thought the entire HR being spectacularly incompetent was the bananapants part.

      2. My Cabbages!*

        I will be honest, that part shocked me WAAAAY less than HR blatantly stating “medical documentation ‘doesn’t hold much weight’ with the company.”

        1. Observer*

          Yeah, that one actually was more shocking to me too.

          Sure, Aubrey’s behavior is full on banana ensemble, but we already KNEW that she’s missing something (actually a few somethings) upstairs. So, not THAT shocking.

          But that any non-newbie HR professional saying that *legally binding* documentation “doesn’t hold much weight”?!?!? How on earth or under it does that happen?! It’s not for nothing that the CHRO was horrified and didn’t leave the lawyer much to do.

          1. Ama*

            This is absolutely just speculation but that is the kind of reasoning I’ve encountered from colleagues of my acquaintance who just can’t, under any circumstances, admit that they are wrong. I suspect HR decided Aubrey was in the right because she complained first (which is also against best HR practices but not uncommon human behavior) and then took increasingly ludicrous (and legally damaging) positions to justify that position all because to NOT do so would be to admit they’d rushed to the wrong judgment in the first place.

            1. Reality.Bites*

              But that first judgment wasn’t merely wrong. It was egregiously wrong, the sort of wrong that can’t occur by accident. It doesn’t matter why and how OP lost the weight – she was being harassed at work.

        2. AnonToday*

          Same! I hooted out loud at that part, b/c anyone with the slightest notion about ADA and FLMA knows that’s not gonna legally fly.

          1. DJ Abbott*

            Never worked in HR or been involved in any kind of personnel stuff, and I know this just from reading AAM.

        3. Bunny Lake Is Found*

          Yep, given Audrey’s past behavior, I was expecting some level of unhinged behavior.

          Putting IN WRITING that you KNOW something is the LAW but you are just going to ignore it when you are IN HR feels like the height of “Are you actually a swarm of bees in a human suit because literally NO human would ever think this was even remotely the right thing to do?”

        4. MEH Squared*

          Yes, this. My mouth was open while reading the whole update, but this was when my eyes went cartoon-big. The DIRECTOR of HR actually declaring either in writing (what??) or on the phone (double what??) that federally-mandated laws didn’t hold weight?? That stunned me.

        5. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

          Yes, a loopy MLM / cult member victimising another employee should be an easily fixable issue, but when the HR department enforces this loopiness, penalises the victim and states their contempt for legal documentation, then the whole company may be falling into disfunction.

        6. IDIC believer*

          Yeah Audrey a whack-a-doodle but has relatively limited effect, but HR can have already seriously affect numerous employees over an extended period. How can any CHRO trust anything this HR department has told an employee or taken action on? LW, unlike 99.99% of employees, got a lawyer and really kept pushing. What other employee was refused legitimate benefits or protections by this incompetent HR.

          I worked at a state facility (1500 employees) that was part of a large state agency. Our HR department was so incompetent that managers would strongly recommend those planning to retire take the 6-hour round trip to the state agency HQ HR so retirement wouldn’t be screwed up. HR screwed up in lots of ways including authorizing duplicate paychecks to 30 people one payday, and simply took no action so HQ HR wouldn’t be alerted. There are lots of BananaPants in HRs!

        7. Well...*

          This thread is full of amazing screen names I love it.

          Also it’s so awful LW went through all this. This update was such a rollercoaster to read, can’t imagine living it.

    2. Kali*

      I am a first responder and almost nothing can surprise me when it comes to bananapants behavior, and yet… holy bananapants, Batman.

    3. Three Flowers*

      There is no belt of steel or vibration or diamond that could be strong enough to hold on to this level of bananapants. OMG.

        1. A person in retail*

          I mean, I was visualizing some sort of futuristic device that causes air molecules to vibrate in the exact pattern necessary to hold up pants without a physical belt, so… it worked for me.

    4. Not Your Trauma Bucket*

      SAME. I popped a handful of nuts into my mouth immediately before I read “showed up at my house”, and I think I almost died.

      1. Csethiro Ceredin*

        Nuts are certainly an appropriate snack for this one, though.

        (if you don’t have the banana crackers)

    5. Miette*

      Neither did I. I am bananapantsless.

      Man I love a good comeuppance story, and this one’s as good (if not better) as what happened with the spicy food letter writer. I am happy you are on the mend, OP, and I hope you find a nice new job soon.

      1. Csethiro Ceredin*

        In the spicy food saga at least we found out WHY the HR person was siding with the villain of the piece. Here we can only speculate that they are in the same cult? Maybe?

    6. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      No worries. They are on the floor next to my jaw.

      This has replaced spicy food thief conclusion as the best bananapants conclusion ever.

      And that is out of:
      -Coworker being deadnamed which was pretty satisfying, but that was not bananapants.
      -“My coworker calls me baby mama” was bananapants but not as satisfying because that guy went to sensitivity training or more precisely, keep your sexist thoughts to yourself class.

      But this? This is amazing.

      1. Bunny Lake Is Found*

        Oh man, but never forget the “un-manager” (aka beer run boss) and “The girl I bullied is a Rockstar at the company I want to work for”. Those similarly were like peeling onions of bananapantsery.

        This one is quite something, though because there were SO MANY PEOPLE doing SO MANY BONKERS THINGS. This was a group effort of bananapants, not just a lone banana…pant?

        1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

          Oh, like the “girl I ghosted is going to interview me for my dream job”
          But the girl was a grown woman he’d LIVED WITH FOR THREE YEARS and while cohabitating, packed up his bananapants and bananashirts and went off the grid leaving her to contact everyone, file police reports and otherwise upend her life.

          1. eye roll*

            The ghost guy wasn’t going for an interview. If it’s the one I’m thinking of, she was going to be his new boss. And then he refused to cooperate with the reasonable restrictions his employer wanted to impose, so quit and left another girlfriend.

      2. DJ Hymnotic*

        Off the top of my head, the only update that comes close to that critical balance between sheer bananapants-ness and a ridiculously satisfying conclusion was good ol’ Bob from accounting decreeing that ordering extra guac at Chipotle was an irresponsible expenditure of member dues.

    7. Ghostlight*

      My cat would like a formal apology for the lack of content warning as he is no longer happily sleeping on my desk after my very loud reaction to this update.

      1. Have GNU, Will Travel*

        My cats are experienced professional monkey supervisors and their only reaction was an irritated ear twitch.

    8. Marna Nightingale*

      I think we have moved past banana and into the more serious tropical fruits.

      This is a situation that calls for putting the lime in the coconut and drinking it all up (subject to medical advice, etc).

    9. Sad teacher*

      Agreed. I also laughed very loud at this comment. Thank you and to the rest of the replies in this thread.

    1. The New Wanderer*

      I just got back from an amusement park and *this* update had me feeling that roller coaster vibe! Just, WOW.

  2. Respectfully, Pumat Sol*

    I am SPEECHLESS. Aubrey sure puts the ass in the bananapants.
    Good luck on the job hunt!

  3. HugeTractsofLand*

    My jaw kept dropping lower and lower. I’m so glad management had your back through this and you were finally able to contact a reasonable HR person but WOW. Just wow. I don’t think anyone would blame you if you didn’t go back. I wish you a speedy recovery, OP!

    1. Ex-Teacher*

      But holy crap, there’s a huge management issue if the only competent HR person in the company is the Chief HR executive.

      That should be a massive red flag for all upper management.

      1. SpecialSpecialist*

        I glad the cheif HR executive was competent in this matter when it was thrust right under their nose, but they’re not doing a very good job when it comes to running an HR department if the underlings can get away with this type of stuff….

      2. JSPA*

        if the chief is new, I feel for her. What an Augean stables of dysfunction.

        If she has been there for some time and the aggressive incompetence has metastasized under her watch… then she may be a good HR person as an individual, but (absent some pretty heavy duty alternative explanations) her management skills could REALLY use a tuneup.

        1. NotAnotherManager!*

          My current head of HR inherited a dystopian hellscape department, and, as soon as she realized that, invested a lot of time in training/monitoring/replacing people who didn’t want to give up their beloved dystopian hellscape (or power trip). She runs one of the most consistent, finely-tuned departments in the organization now.

          I applaud the CHRO’s handling of the escalation, but to be that unaware of what’s going on under you is not a good look. Her department uttered some magic words that would be the headline evidence of a discrimination claim.

      3. Snow Globe*

        And yet, how competent could the Executive HR person be if every person underneath them was so incompetent? I mean, at least the Executive understands the law, but apparently not how to hire or train people.

        1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

          But here’s the thing.
          Garbage in. Garbage out.
          HR told me X.
          And nobody double checks/challenges.
          They leave.
          Exit interview:
          Because of X policy.
          HR: ex-employee disagreed with policies.

        2. fhqwhgads*

          OP said going to that person was 5 levels above the HR person they were previously dealing with. So it sounds like it’s not every person underneath, but rather OP cut to the chase by going straight to the top instead of having to find out for herself how widespread/far up the chain the incompetence went.

          1. EPLawyer*

            Also we don’t know what HR lower levels were telling upper levels. they might have been telling their boss, got it covered, all solved in meditation, OP has paperwork for leave. So boss has no reason to escalate or even be aware of a problem. So no one higher up checks either.

            1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

              This is my suspicion of why CHRO was in the dark. The “hr person” came up with something convincing to tell immediate supervisor – and then it became a bland nothing footprint in the next HR summary sent up to management.

              Till OP got a lawyer and cut through all the nonsense and red tape that is.

          2. Bunny Lake Is Found*

            Yes. The HR Boss’s Boss (“Doesn’t hold much weight”) is like 2 levels under CHRO. Maybe whoever HRBB reports to is overworked, out on leave with no one checking in on their reports, has been a constant string of new people who never really see HRBB’s lack of understanding about their job, has been actively lied to by HRBB and this was the first time HRBB got caught. But for many reasons, I think we can’t blame CHRO as an incompetent manager. And, not for nothing, CHRO axed everyone is the chain of bad decision making.

        3. Bamboo*

          Speculating wildly, but I think a lot of bad advice/behavior within HR departments goes unchecked because so many HR issues are confidential/need-to-know by default. So entry and mid level folks don’t usually share details up the chain. Which means their managers don’t have a chance to redirect/retrain/etc unless someone does what the OP did here and goes “ummm…this seems wrong” and escalates. In my experience managers, and sometimes employees, who report issues are told that HR issues are important to keep confidential

          I got some incredibly bad advice from HR years ago and followed it because I didn’t know better. When the poop hit the fan months later I nearly lost my job, and would have if it hadn’t been for the fact I saved all my emails and notes and followed the advice given to the letter. I learned a valuable corollary to “HR works for the company, not you” and that is “and many HR people are junior. They may be wrong. You may also know more than they do about the relevant policies or laws.” I’ve seen a handful of other situations in just 5 years as a manager where HR clearly missed the plot and either made, or almost made, bad decisions.

      4. Overit*

        IME, the incompetence, favoritism, and malice displayed by HR here is sadly, par for the course.

  4. ThinMint*

    My mouth is still open, aghast, minutes later. What in the actual….

    I’m glad you were able to get a lawyer. But in this case, you’re shouldering that cost right? What a nightmare.

    1. MeepMeep123*

      Sounds like the lawyer didn’t have to do much in this case. They just basically had to exist. So I at least hope OP didn’t have to pay too much in legal fees.

      1. Grizabella the Glamour Cat*

        Depends on whether the lawyer was billing by the hour. That time spent in the CHRO’s office, for example, might have been billable even if he didn’t have to actively do much.

        In any case, I hope the whole thing didn’t cost LW a huge amount, but it sounds like it was money well-spent, at least!

  5. Antilles*

    I don’t know if it’s possible for steam to physically come out of ears, but if it was possible for someone’s jaw to spontaneously unhinge from their skull and physically drop to the floor, this update would have done it. Holy heck.

    1. old curmudgeon*

      Would have, heck – I had to get down on my hands and knees to retrieve my jaw from under the credenza where it bounced when it landed.

    2. Phony Genius*

      I would like to know what Pantone color matches the chief HR officer’s face while she was hearing all this.

  6. Juniper*

    Holy s**t!!! I am speechless. I have literally never heard of such severe and widespread dysfunction. Wow! I am glad you’ve had a few people in your corner through all this. Best of luck with your job search and recovery.

  7. Shiba Dad*

    All I have to say for this update is hold on to your bananapants.

    Oh c’mon, how bad could it…oh.

      1. The Eye of Argon*

        Short of using some sort of industrial robot with a super-strong gripper attachment, there is no possible way of holding on to your bananpants hard enough. After getting to the part with Aubrey showing up at her house, I don’t think even the robot could do it.

        1. Miette*

          I literally held out my hands to — i dunno, shield myself? — when i got to the Aubrey showing up part.

        2. Insert Clever Name Here*

          You may be able to hold on to a *portion* of your bananapants, but for sure there is no way to remain fully bananapanted while reading this update.

    1. Freida*

      This whole update was so beautifully written and the bananapants metaphor was so deftly adjusted along the way! Kudos to making a fantastic story out of such a total pile of molten garbage.

      1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

        Holy crap, this is is the Lay’s chips of updates.
        ^just right;read

    2. NotAnotherManager!*

      It just kept going and going, and then you’re thinking, “WOW, that’s A LOT”… and then there was MORE!

  8. Snarkus Aurelius*

    Are all the HR staff who were involved in the harassment campaign against you also a part of Aubrey’s MLM/cult scheme?

    1. SHEILA, the co-host*

      Or she’s part of theirs. Either way, someone in this story is the downline of someone else in the story.

      1. Sarah M*

        The cherry on the cake was Aubrey going to OP’s house with two of her MLM Posse – not just to provide her with Valuable Health Tips, but to try to get OP in her downstream (!!!). I. Can’t. Even.

        1. Clisby*

          Property records and voter records haven’t been private for years and years and years (maybe forever), at least in my state.

        2. constant_craving*

          That’s not even an “anymore” thing though. Used to be able to just look it up in the white pages.

      1. The Wedding Planner*

        It’s very easy to find an address online if you know a person’s full name and the city/state where they live.

  9. Chief Petty Officer Tabby*

    Unholy Clown Car of Bees Behavior, Batman!

    Girl, RUN. RUUUUUUUUUUUUN! That’s a whole wasp nest of nope.

    1. The Prettiest Curse*

      All of the wasps are holding red flags, and there’s an entire beehive worth of bees flying in formation to spell out RUN!

      1. Chief Petty Officer Tabby*

        A veritable sea of RUN, RUN, RUDY, GIRL RUUUUUN!

        Seriously, I would be using a lot of time getting ready to leave.

    2. Boolie*

      Hmm I dunno! OP might be ok staying. The crap people are gone thanks to the good guys up top. And the lawyer, but the good guys up top seemed to be cooperative without much hassle.

      1. Observer*

        That was my first thought, too. But I think that a lot depends on how the HR department got so bad.

        1. Bunny Lake Is Found*

          This reminds me so much of the Beer Run Unmanager. Her team was a toxic mess and that was in no small part because Unmanager was actively choosing to ignore their manager’s direct instructions. That situation really highlights that it can really just be ONE manager deciding “they know better” (and hiding the truth from their superiors) rather than a total top down problem.

          Also, the random HR folks in the DNA Test/CEO-Half Bro letter.

          Also, in this case, LW does point to the fact that her actual managers and her co-workers were VERY supportive and made all the attempts possible to shut down Audrey and mitigate the damage to LW. So it is possible the problems in HR were more like a large boil than necrotizing fasciitis.

          1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

            DNA Test/CEO-Half Bro letter!
            that one and the “I don’t have a license so I couldn’t drive my boss back to the office and now HR told me that yeah, I was right not to drive, but he’s more important than I am, friends with every other manager and if I could see myself out, that would be great.”

            1. MyBananaLostItsPeel*

              Do you have a link to this letter? I don’t remember it but I feel like I need to witness this… pile of bees.

                1. MyBananaLostItsPeel*

                  Thank you. I remembered the DNA one, but now I have to witness this license one.

      2. Festively Dressed Earl*

        The coworkers who told Aubrey to stop during the meeting, Aubrey’s boss who kicked her out of the meeting and put her on a PIP, OP’s former boss, and OP’s new boss are all models of what to do when someone is being a bully at work. HR dropped the ball completely on their own. In fact, I suspect Aubrey’s boss sent her to HR as groundwork for firing her, not to spring mediation on OP.

        1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

          That was addressed by OP. And Absolutely!
          “When Aubrey’s boss referred her to HR regarding her negative behavior, HR took it upon themselves to consider it a mediation situation (which, remember, at our company can go against your bonus for the year) despite communication from George, his replacement, and Aubrey’s boss saying I wasn’t in the wrong.”

        2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          Same here – I really suspect that Aubrey’s manager was just as gobsmacked by how bad HR and the advice/process was. Sounds like the bees were contained to Aubrey and HR local – but even still they were capable of enormous damage.

  10. Brain the Brian*

    “…from bananapants to full-on banana ensemble,” indeed. Wowza. I could feel my eyes popping out of my head as I read this.

  11. Warrior Princess Xena*

    What the actual blue blooming barnacles.

    Is your ex-HR person from another planet? Or related to the mother in Coraline somehow? I have the faintest amount of sympathy for CHRO, because I cannot imagine how I would have reacted to learning an employee in my chain of command had bungled a situation THIS BADLY, but. Just. I’m speechless. I’m glad to hear they followed through with keeping Aubrey in line (who is also apparently from another planet???)

    1. tamarack, rack rack*

      Yeah, wow.

      What this illustrates to me is that, while HR should never be mistaken for a champion of an employee against a company (b/c they are there to serve the interest of the company), a *bad* HR department can wreak havoc and really turn a company toxic.

      (I’ve had good HR people help me when I needed it, because they recognized that the interest of the company wasn’t was my higher-ups thought it was… and that’s often a very good and efficient thing.)

  12. Raging Iron Thunder*

    WTF did I just read. I nominate this for craziest story of the year. I suspect something is really wrong with how the CHRO is running the HR department, and glad to hear the HR folks involved got sacked. And 5 levels of management? That’s enough layers for senior managers to have ZERO idea what is going on beneath them.

    1. Emily*

      Yeah, I’m confused about why there are that many levels of HR, but maybe there is something to the organizational structure that I don’t get.

      Thanks for updating us, OP! This was truly bananas, and I’m glad you consulted a lawyer (also, shout out to your awesome Mother in Law).

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        I’m guessing the HR departments are pretty siloed, with different “branches” handling different areas, and only writing up the most polished versions of incidents for the CHRO; I can’t fathom how this kind of toxic pool could form otherwise, since the CHRO was appalled and swung right into action when she heard what was going on. But it does underline how easily stuff like this went way beyond any reasonable version of “bad but real world” so quickly.

        1. Bunny Lake Is Found*

          I absolutely can see this, especially if the HR team is broken down into like, 4 divisions (Hiring/Recruitment, Benefits, Compliance, and Terminations/Transfers) that report to a head of HR in of 12 offices, those people report to 4 regional HR VPs, who all report to CHRO. LW could absolutely have gone as high as possible in the division of the office, gotten the “medical documentation doesn’t hold much weight” from the Director of Benefits, Tampa Office and decided she wasn’t going to bother with the VP of HR, Tampa Office HR or the SVP of HR, Southeastern Region. And for it to be completely reasonable for the CHRO to have no idea what the Director of Benefits in the Tampa Office and their 1-3 person team have been getting up to.

    2. anne of mean gables*

      Yeah I am glad the CHRO came through in the end, but at some point a department that is that mismanaged? untrained? unvetted? hiring exclusively MLM devotees? is the fault and problem of the person or people at the top. One incompetent HR person at the bottom is one thing, but for something to get handled this poorly, for as long as OP was getting run around and harassed by Audrey, speaks to a deeper systemic problem in the department.

    3. Magenta Sky*

      There’s a part of me that sincerely hopes this is the craziest story of the year.

      But there’s also a part of me that wants even crazier stories (but with an equally happy ending).

    4. I'm Just Here For The Cats!*

      I’m thinking its a really large company, and maybe multiple locations in multiple states so I can see a few HR people at each location with a head HR at each location, a district HR that oversees several locations, and then the Chief HR officer who oversees everyone.

      1. Woodswoman*

        Right, as someone who works in HR, this is how I imagined it as well. My location has about 400 employees, and it’s just me and my boss in the HR department, then it goes up to someone who is over 3 facilities, then someone who is over 10 facilities, etc. This update was GHASTLY.

      2. Antilles*

        This was my thought too and it (partly) explains how this was able to slip under the radar: The local HR rep and the head of HR for that location were equally off the rails, but the organization is big enough that district HR and then the chief of HR are too far removed from day-to-day business and individual employees to get a real view of how things are going.

        I don’t mean this as a justification or excuse – the regional HR should be overseeing the branch HR and occasionally dipping in to spot-check individual HR reps, while the CHRO should be overseeing regional HR and occasionally dipping in to spot-check branch HR reps. BUT it’s a common enough corporate structure that often results in stuff slipping through the crack if the lower levels are really dedicated to hiding stuff.

      3. The Prettiest Curse*

        It’s good that the CHRO was “what the actual effing f?”- but the fact that the OP had to go that far up the shows that there are some serious problems with the lower level HR, as the OP stated.

      4. SHEILA, the co-host*

        In the last paragraph, LW says there are other locations – noting that her department may get distributed around the state. So I’m guessing the CHRO is not on site at the same location LW is. The “Director” is the top person at her site.

        1. Emily*

          That makes sense. I’m hoping the CHRO keeps a closer eye on things for awhile, because something clearly went awry.

  13. Catwhisperer*

    I am so, SO glad that the CHRO finally handled this appropriately but W O W. I hope Aubrey addresses whatever inner personal demons are driving her to do this, because the inside of her head must be a miserable place. Hope that if you do go back things are calmer now that the main perpetrators are gone, but if you don’t I hope you land somewhere with a healthier work culture!

  14. PivotPivot*

    I actually yelled, “Oh my gosh!” at the computer when LW said Aubrey showed up at her house. What the unholy heck!

    1. 3DogNight*

      I’m really hoping we have a “Most Unhinged Co-Worker” category this year. Wait, next year, this one already won.

  15. hiptobesquare*

    I think my favorite stories are when the C-suite folks realize what their juniors are doing and clean house. Bonus points when it’s HR.

    1. Ampersand*

      Yes! But also—it bothers me when the C-suite is in the dark about what’s really going on in an organization. It’s still satisfying to hear about it when they clean house, though, and I would hope it means it won’t happen again because they’ll be paying attention.

  16. Nay*

    When I got to the “Then she showed up at my house part.” I lost it, it was already a good update but then it was like, jaw meet floor! Thank you LW for updating, this will be AAM history for sure!

    1. Shiba Dad*

      Yeah, I was full-on WTF when I got to that part. That could have been MUCH WORSE than it was.

    1. Wren_Song*

      May the universe bless this attorney for understanding the truly critical nature of the bananapants update. We need these updates!

  17. squirreltooth*

    Holy shirt, OP! I’m so glad you got a lawyer and you were documenting this saga so carefully—both for your sake and for ours!

  18. Bruce*

    Wow, that was a wild ride. I enjoyed the part about the VP of HR having steam coming out of her ears. Kudos to your MIL too! Good luck, I hope you recover fully and end up in a better place!

    1. The Rural Juror*

      The OP is an excellent writer. All of that was infuriating, but they made it funny and the ending was extremely satisfying. As someone else above said, these are the updates we LIVE FOR!

  19. Roy G. Biv*

    ….. Amazing …. and not in a good way.

    And I pity Aubrey’s “wellness coach” customers.

  20. Kwame T. Kirk*

    “Then she showed up at my house.”

    Jaw drops past the undercarriage.

    What the HELL?

    I thought we were reading a nice normal retribution update … but woah.

    1. Gumby*


      I once took an exercise class from someone who mentioned that she was trying to shift her teenage son’s vegetable consumption away from carrots since they are the vegetable with the most sugar. But she was a perfectly nice person as far as I could tell and wasn’t pushing that nutjobbery on other people, just talking about her own household. (She never asked about what we ate, it was just chatting during reps in an abs/core class. But still. Teenage boy. Too many carrots. It’s an age old complaint from parents throughout the ages.)

      1. MM*

        My dad once told teen me I was going to get diabetes from eating too much fruit. Like, apples and plums. I kind of think parents should just be quarantined from all nutritional pop science until their kids are 18.

    2. Chief Petty Officer Tabby*


      The way I sm struggling not to guffaw loudly on the train…! I can totally imagine Aubrey Bananas saying Exactly This.

    3. Avril Ludgateaux*

      This makes me laugh because a friend of mine was told by a nutritionist that the serving size for a banana is half a banana.

      1. Avril Ludgateaux*

        *for clarity, I thought it was a ridiculous suggestion. 1. Bananas naturally come in convenient, biodegradable single-serving packaging and 2. Bananas can vary pretty dramatically in size, and if you’re worried about sugar content, the stage of ripeness matters, too – so “half a banana” is both impractical and meaningless.

        That nutritionist would probably have recommended bananashorts instead of bananapants.

        1. Calamity Janine*

          this seems absurd at first – but honestly, as a diabetic…

          yeah the serving size of a banana is half a banana.

          most of the time however that means “so know it’s two servings by default when counting carb units and making sure that your blood sugar isn’t going to spike too bad”.

      1. Good Enough For Government Work*

        General, just ‘pissing by the door’* to say that your choice of handle makes me smile every time I see it.

        *For those who’ve never seen the show being referenced: the ‘typo’ is intentional

        1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

          I’m delighted that you like it. I can’t even remember why I chose it, but I’ve been using it here for some time!

    1. OrigCassandra*

      This is a super-amazing lawyer. I’d put this lawyer on retainer if I had any reason to.

    2. Gemstones*

      But wouldn’t it be better for the lawyer to tell the OP not to talk about it, to be on the safe side? I can’t imagine a lawyer being in favor of sending an update like this…

      1. Bunny Lake Is Found*

        Not an employment lawyer, but I get why they were fine with this. Given what the HR department put LW through, the company would be beyond stupid to make any moves against her. LW could totally still sue, I doubt her lawyer allowed her to waive her rights in exchange for the paid medical leave. It’s the company that needs to watch its ass at this point, not LW.

  21. KatEnigma*

    At least once you got to the CHRO they were as gobsmacked as everyone else and took care of you and cleaned house in a hurry.

    I wonder if any of the fired HR persons were part of Aubrey’s MLM…

    AND they fired Ms Bananapants when she proved herself more bananas than even you thought she’d go! You might still need a restraining order…

    1. XF1013*

      I worry about Aubrey too. Now that she doesn’t have a job to lose by harassing OP, will she get worse? Luckily OP has a good attorney already.

      1. Caliente Papillon*

        Yikes imagine if a restraining order is needed?
        We lost my mother, already a problematic person to have to deal with, to an MLM. A couple really and she did them when I was younger. Has never made cent off if it. Could barely talk to her before and unfortunately I just can’t now. Last convo- why can’t you buy my products, you spend money on other things? Said aggressively. Luckily I know how to say excuse me?! in such tones that make people not dare to reiterate lol

  22. irene adler*

    This is going down as one of the classic updates – probably of all time.

    Jumpin’ jack flash! Aubrey showed up at your home??? WTF??

    Your MIL is my new hero!

  23. Falling Diphthong*

    Aubrey: “I’m on a PIP and the HR people who told me I was fine have all been fired. I feel my next move should involve an MLM.”

    1. anne of mean gables*


      I would not show up at my favorite, actual-friends-outside-of-work, colleague’s house without warning. To do it to a person you’ve been actively harassing for the last few months, and who is recovering from surgery, while on a PIP, is the most impressive failure to ‘read the room’ I have ever heard of.

      1. Zephy*

        YES. I literally don’t know how to get my colleagues’ addresses if I wanted them, how did she even find out where OP lives??

        1. mango chiffon*

          This is making me wonder if she got it from one of the HR people, because I’ve only ever had to get addresses for staff from HR when we were sending condolence gifts to coworkers

        2. Weaponized Pumpkin*

          It’s not always the case, but it can be pretty easy to find where people live. Especially if they own their home.

            1. RunShaker*

              I Googled myself recently and found, for free, a full list of ALL addresses I’ve ever lived at since age of 19….with approximate dates as well.

              1. Kyrielle*

                Yuuuup. Depends on how common the name is – I have a friend with a VERY common name and I can Google her name and city and still find many people that I know aren’t her (because I do have her address, and I know what she does for a living). But if you Google *me* and my *state* you can find me pretty easily. My name isn’t unique, but if you know my age and current or past city I’ve lived in, you can spot me in the data and track down my current address.

        3. JSPA*

          I usually start with last name, the most common local area code, and a selection of local ZIP codes, and work from there. (Not to harass people! To return lost goods and found files and such.) If you happen to know a spouse’s name as well, it’s even easier.

        4. Generic Name*

          I mean, back in the day, we had the phone book, which listed everyone’s phone number (for the phone that plugged into the wall of your house…) and address. Now you can find that same info online.

          1. Relentlessly Socratic*

            Yeah, people are shocked about the address, but it’s always been easy to track down an address, just more time consuming in the past than it is today. Well, unless you had a phone book, then it was actually quicker than Google is now.

      2. Turquoisecow*

        Yeah I mean making comments about a coworker’s body is one thing. Complaining about a person to other coworkers is another. I have definitely seen where a coworker thinks of another in a sort of parental way and worries about medical stuff that shouldn’t and doesn’t concern them.

        But going to someone’s house takes it to another level of bananas. And going to their house while they’re on medical leave WITH backup. No. You have crossed a line into banana world and there’s no turning back.

      3. Falling Diphthong*

        “Listen, great-grand-HR head, I can’t ‘read the room’ if OP doesn’t come to my physical location so we are both physically in a room together. So I had to go to hers.”

      4. goddessoftransitory*

        Right? My only reason to go by a work colleague’s house uninvited would be to tell them their roof was on fire.

    2. Zephy*

      You’re assuming she wasn’t already embroiled in the MLM, which I’m fairly certain she has been from the jump.

      1. Damn it, Hardison!*

        Yeah, that’s what I was thinking too. Those tactics are right out of a “wellness” MLM handbook.

      2. Totally Minnie*

        Yeah, I’m the first letter she’s just bananapantsly angry at LW for losing weight for no reason, but with the update it’s pretty clear she was mad that LW sought help from a doctor instead of using her MLM products.

    3. Book lover*

      “Surely the person I have been told to stop harassing at work is a terrific candidate to build my downline. This will definitely go well.”

        1. Zweisatz*

          MLMs skirt that line regularly. The people harassing her at home were very likely from the MLM as well.

      1. I'm Just Here For The Cats!*

        Audry is so wrapped up in the MLM cult that she can’t see that shes doing anything wrong.

        1. Former Young Lady*

          It’s selection bias. As a rule, MLMs don’t tend to recruit people with strong situational awareness, good business acumen, well-tuned personal ethics, or a healthy respect for boundaries.

    4. Tio*

      She literally heard “Don’t harass people about their weight/lifestyle at work” and then said to herself “But that means out of work is fine”

  24. Bluebird*

    “Now we move from bananpants to full-on banana ensemble.“

    This was a brilliant play on words OP and still could not have prepared me for what was to come.

      1. anne of mean gables*

        For me it’s the hotdog costume from I Think You Should Leave, but bananas. Just standing in the middle of a disaster it’s extremely obvious she caused and saying “we’re all looking for the guy who did this!”

        1. Good Enough For Government Work*

          For me, it’s Billy Connolly’s famous leotard-and-bananaboots ensemble…

  25. NOT The BEES!*

    *not that it matters*, because she was out of line regardless and you don’t owe her an explanation, but for some reason I’m wildly curious if she ever figured out that you didn’t have weight loss surgery?

    Like obviously you’re working from home for a reason. How clueless can someone be?

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      Aubrey. Aubrey can be this clueless.

      It really is amazing how some people can just get an idea in their head and then never let any amount of actual reality™ shift it.

      1. NobodyHasTimeForThis*

        THIS so much. I had a friend who lost a bunch of weight due to illness, but a coworker decided she was anorexic and even telling her that she had been sick did not change their mind.

        1. Bunny Lake Is Found*

          The reverse is kind of terrible too. I lost like 45 pounds in about 5/6 weeks due to a very stressful period in my life. I lived on ice cream and booze and was ridiculously unhealthy on almost every level and, while I was still technically “obese”, when standing (not lying down) I had the rib cage of a greyhound.

          But everyone complimented me on how great I looked and how good it was I was “getting healthy”. Eventually I started bluntly telling people “Yeah, it’s not that, I just am so stressed out the only thing I can keep down is Americone Dream and Moosetracks and the only way I can sleep is by having 3 shots of vodka in 15 minutes at around 2:30 am.” and then most people recognized that, despite what we have been taught, thinner does not equal healthier.

          However, more than once I got “Well, you look great!”, which might have just been folks being uncomfortable to my directness, and also, worse still, some version of “Whatever you are doing, it clearly works for your body!” Yep, folks actually seemed to think living on 750-1000 calories a day, 1/3rd of which were alcohol, was something I should keep doing because it was “working”.

          Basically, people need to not make value judgements on people’s health, especially purely based on on the size of their body.

          1. Bryce*

            I had something like that once, the stress and other issues just wiped out my appetite. Didn’t even realize I was losing weight, “on top of all my other problems, my clothes are stretching and I can’t afford new ones.” Fortunately the food I was forcing myself to eat was relatively nutritionally balanced.

            I’m in a better place now and down from 370 to stabilized around 290 (over the course of a decade). Which, you know, on the one hand great but I wouldn’t recommend the method to anybody.

          2. Irish Teacher.*

            Ugh. While I am overweight, I am a very picky eater (probably why I’m overweight, to be honest) and I’ve had a couple of people say, “oh, I wish I was like you” when somebody brings in treats I can’t eat. Yeah, it might be good for my health if it were only sweets I couldn’t eat, but…it doesn’t work like that and having a restricted diet makes it harder to eat healthily, not easier. Some people seem to think it means I’m just not that bothered about food (not true at all) rather than a number of foods make me gag if I eat them.

            And that’s a minor deal really. But people are odd about others’ diets.

      2. WS*

        Yes, I lost a large amount of weight while incredibly sick and anemic with not-yet-diagnosed Crohns Disease, after fainting at work and being taken off in an ambulance because they couldn’t read my blood pressure. But “Oh, you’re looking so great, oh, you’re looking so healthy!” I looked like the living dead!

    2. On my lunch break*

      I would actually be surprised if she would even believe it if told. She’d probably assume it was a cover story

      1. Bunny Lake Is Found*

        Yep. Audrey strikes me as someone who sees someone with a splint on their nose and, regardless of how many times the person told them that they broke their nose when the airbags deployed, would still tell people that Jake got a nose job.

  26. Mads*

    I paused at “she showed up at my house” to say “W H A T” out loud. She showed up AT YOUR HOUSE. I am so glad you and your lawyer have gotten things sorted and wish you the best upon your return or in your job hunt!

      1. radiant*

        Get fired in the weirdest and most offensive way possible. Your time started when you opened the envelope. You have three years.

  27. Advenella*

    OP: *goes through the right channels, and still gets push back*
    Me: whoa.
    OP: “medical documentation doesn’t carry that much weight”
    Me, starting to get wide-eyed: Whoa.
    OP: *gets a lawyer and contacts the head of Human Resources*
    Me: Whoa!
    OP: “… and then Aubrey showed up at my house.”
    Me, out loud, standing in my kitchen and almost dropping my bagel butter-down*: WHAT?!?!?!

    This is the best update I’ve read in a very, very long time. Thank you for sharing it with us.

    1. glitter writer*

      That’s the exact same point where I shouted aloud, too, only I said words that make me glad I’m the only one home and that I definitely can’t say in most comments sections haha.

            1. Aubrey's Bananapants*

              I am large*. I contain multitudes.

              *In point of fact, I am NOT large. Nosiree, I wear a -0 in pants, and if you want to too, just give me a call at 1-800-ToxicAF

  28. lurkyloo*

    I second and more every other comment …and then I laughed out loud at your lawyers saying you couldn’t leave us hanging! *standing ovation*

  29. Aquamarine*

    She showed up at her house??!! What, what, what??

    I don’t know if my jaw has ever LITERALLY dropped before reading one of these letters.

  30. Corrigan*

    My face when she showed up at your house. Your HOUSE!

    I’m glad you got a competent head of HR, and that you MIL was able to help when you were accosted at home. Wow. But I’m sorry you had to go through all that in the first place.

    1. old curmudgeon*

      I dunno about the head of HR being competent, if she’s the one who was running the HR department with those idiots on staff. At the very least, I’d seriously question both her hiring choices and her ability to be an effective manager if things got THAT bad without her realizing it.

      Yes, once the OP lawyered up, the head of HR responded as she should, but I have a strong suspicion that the reason was that she knew what kind of legal fees and judgments she was about to cost the company if she didn’t.

      1. I'm Just Here For The Cats!*

        I don’t think the head of HR knew how bananas this was. It sounds like a huge company and she was not aware of any of what was going on. Keep in mind that the lower HR just had it as a mediation issue and that she had ADA/FMLA. The chief of HR is not going to know about every little mediation or ADA request, especially if the bananas are being hidden.

        1. Kevin Sours*

          It’s literally her job to know how bananas her department is. This isn’t some minor oops, this is multiple layers of clown show. In fact the primary job of chief whatever officer is making sure there are people with good judgement in place so things do not go this far off the rails.

          1. Bunny Lake Is Found*

            But if Director of HR is reporting this as a “conflict between Audrey and LW” and (as we suspect) Audrey and HR Director are tight, what was getting sent up the chain could have been something like:

            “Audrey is excessively concerned about LW’s health after her major weight loss and she keeps expressing this to LW and their coworkers. However, Audrey would stop if she just knew that LW had a medical condition rather than lost the weight by some dangerous or unhealthy way. LW did not disclose this information to Audrey, despite the fact that LW finds Audrey’s behavior upsetting and feels harassed by Audrey’s repeated inquiries and interactions with LW regarding her health. Meanwhile, LW not sharing this information is negatively impacting Audrey’s mental health. Despite Audrey sharing this information with LW, and HR’s encouragement that disclosing the cause of the weight loss would resolve the central issue, LW maintained her decision not to disclose the cause of her weight loss.”

            That version is technically true, but it definitely downplays Audrey’s behavior and makes it seem like there is just a clash between Audrey’s expressions of concern and LW’s desire for privacy. If the Director’s supervisor, or even the CHRO, was conveyed that fact pattern, it would give zero indication of how bad the situation really was.

            I also have to assume that what was conveyed, if anything, re: the WFH was basically just some version of “Her medical documentation doesn’t EXPRESSLY require INDEFINATE WFH. She doesn’t need to WFH we can accommodate her in the office.”

            Basically, there is a way to make this all sound like routine HR horse hoofbeats and not the stampeding zebra in bananapants that is actually afoot.

            1. Kevin Sours*

              Doesn’t matter. You have an HR Director telling an employee that *Federal Law* “doesn’t hold much weight” at this company. That can’t happen. It is the responsibly of the CHRO to make sure it doesn’t happen. When your job title starts with C and ends with O your primary job is to make sure that other people are doing theirs. She has no excuse here.

        2. Zelda*

          Lots of language in suits for negligence and discrimination involves the phrase “knew *or should have known*.” You’re almost certainly right that she didn’t know, but she is still responsible.

  31. Liz the Snackbrarian*

    Good for the company for firing the HR people. I wouldn’t want to go back either.

  32. Hills to Die on*

    Adding this to the list of all-time favorite updates along with the stolen spicy food and the bodybuilder getting harassed for his food & nutrition plans.

    Can we start having a vote for the favorite update of the year along with the vote for the worst boss??

    1. Mainly Lurking (UK)*

      I’ve been wanting this for a long time – the really good updates need to be amplified!

    2. Festively Dressed Earl*

      Second the favorite update idea, but I think the office retiree turned volunteer still has a slight edge.

  33. Sherm*

    Your lawyer sounds awesome and was indeed most accurate that we couldn’t be left hanging.

  34. onetimethishappened*

    I have known some people (friends and family even), who get deep and entrenched in their MLMs. However none have ever shown up to people’s houses! They may send multiple messages and call (which is obnoxious enough already), but never have they shown up unannounced at someone’s house!

  35. I'm Just Here For The Cats!*

    OH MY GOSH!! This is just one big banana pants snowball! She showed up at YOUR HOUSE!!! Like how did she get that info? I am so glad that the head of HR was sensible!

  36. Modesty Poncho*

    holy SHIT my eyes have never bugged out harder. Wow. I. Wow. Glad you lawyered up and more glad he didn’t need to do much.

  37. CatCat*

    “Then she showed up at my house.”


    OP, I’m so glad you got an attorney. I hope you can get out of this place. Any chance the attorney could help negotiate a departure for you with pay and benefits intact for a quantity of time?

    1. grubsinmygarden*

      Also a real honest to goodness gasp from me. Such a rare thing and OH MY GOODNESS.

      LW, bless your lawyers for knowing that we had to be told.

  38. Rhymes with Lisa*

    Holding onto my bananapants didn’t stop my eyes from popping out of my head cartoon-style at this incredible update. Part of me really wants to know all about how it was possible for the CHRO to not know how badly off base their direct report (and multiple layers below them) had gone! But more importantly, great work by LW for successfully advocating for themself. Hoping for another post-leave update in which LW gets an excellent role in a non-bananapants org.

  39. Nostalgic Wellness Coach*

    The part about going from banana pants to full-on banana ensemble makes me think of the theme song for “Bananas in Pajamas.”

  40. MsJayTee*

    I would pay money to have been a fly on the wall when the CHRO got to back to her department after meeting with LW and her lawyer.

    1. Wordnerd*

      Some days I worry I’m doing a bad job at my job, and then I read about stuff like this.

  41. John*

    “ Then she showed up at my house.”

    I think LW’s next career move should involve chronicling the Mad Adventures or Aubrey (Adventures of Mad Aubrey?) to turn it into a Netflix tragicomedy.

    The HR incompetence is not surprising.

    That this co-worker is so bonkers IS.

  42. Avocado Toast*

    Screaming!!!! I literally don’t even know what I would do in your shoes, OP. This was an incredibly satisfying update in many ways, but I can pretty much guarantee that Aubrey learned absolutely nothing from this experience so there is still some satisfaction left to be desired! Maybe being stuck in the MLM cycle full-time is its own kind of punishment??

  43. Craig James*

    “and suffice it to say, Aubrey is now a full-time “wellness coach.”

    It’s amazing how much context, insight & emotion can be delivered from such few words. Brilliant.

  44. Lily Rowan*

    HOLY SHIT. Dag, OP, I am glad you got a good lawyer and escalated far enough, and now I hope you take as much time as you need to recover and also GET A DIFFERENT JOB because seriously.

    Banana ensemble, indeed.

  45. LadyProg*

    you would’ve thought someone on a PIP related to behavior towards the OP would know better than to show up anywhere they were, much less their house
    but then again I’m not the one in bananapants
    holy wow, I’m still in shock
    glad the company took it seriously when the right people got involved though!

  46. mango chiffon*

    WOW uh…wow. Did she get OP’s address from HR? Because I can’t think how else that would’ve happened. Glad the CHRO is cleaning house though, because I think my eyes bugged out at the FMLA/ADA “not holding much weight in the company” part

    1. Sara without an H*

      It’s not too hard to find somebody’s address, but given the shit show in the HR department, I’ll bet Aubrey just asked whoever she knows up there to disclose it. I’ll bet dollars to donuts that Aubrey has several friends up there.

      Or had…

    2. Book lover*

      And they wrote it down! In an email! That medical documentation “doesn’t hold much weight”! That’s the part I love/hate and is definitely giving the CHRO a coronary. They wrote down how wrong they were.

    3. Essess*

      I mentioned in another comment… I just tested it out and put my first and last name and city into google search along with the word “address” and my full address showed up as the second result on the search result page without even clicking any links.

  47. Lorena*

    Epic epic story and crazy ending. Thank you for sharing – sorry you had to go through that, but bless you for giving us an update!

  48. The Crowening*

    Hoooooly cow!
    OP, good on you for not backing down in the face of escalating bananapants. And thank you for the update! And by the way, you’re an excellent writer. :)

  49. No Tribble At All*

    That was a ROLLER COASTER. I’m so glad the CHRO was able to shut this down, but I’m very disappointed in them for not being aware of this nonsense from the start.

  50. Peanut Hamper*

    This needs to be a movie.

    I’m trying to cast Aubrey in my mind and failing. I can’t think of any actor who can misguided evil that well.

    1. TomatoSoup*

      For some reason, I see Melanie Lynskey really nailing it.

      Maybe because she has had a lot of nonsense inflicted upon her about her own weight and would have a lot to draw on to make it authentic. Also, I really like seeing her in stuff so the more the better!

      1. Dust Bunny*

        Yeah, depending on age, Melanie Lynskey or Kathy Bates. They both do terrifyingly crazy well.

    2. Former Young Lady*

      I nominate Vanessa Lengies. Megawatt smile, and she does the bananapants-eyes so well!

    3. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

      Kate McKinnon. She can do *anything* well. (For reference, look at her SNL sketches about the UFO encounters.)

    4. Andy*

      I nominate Mary Lynn Rajskub. She’s got a great deadpan in the midst of a clearly ridiculous situation that I absolutely think this script calls for.

    5. Bah humbug*

      I nominate Lucy Lawless, partly because of her wonderful performance as the increasingly bananapants Lucretia in Spartacus, but mostly because I would watch her in literally anything.

  51. Lirael*

    (And I did check with my lawyer about emailing this update and they laughed and said I couldn’t leave people hanging after all that.)

    Thank all that is holy for your lawyer ;) (and your mother in law too!)

    Just. Wow. I’m so sorry you had to deal with all that. How utterly ridiculous.

      1. Outofthepool*

        I really want to know that lawyer’s name, in case I ever have need of a no-bananapants-allowed attorney.

  52. Still not picked a username*

    Now that my brain is formulating full whole words again, after about 30 minutes of just going “whu”, “bu”, “hu”, etc. You sound like a person who is able to get appropriate advice and help with this in real life so you might have looked into this, but please let us know that you filed a police report about her attending your house and look into getting a restraining order against her. She’s all ready proved she has no limits and no boundaries and has your address that she should not have got through legitimate means. Now she’s lost her job *because of you* in her head. Who knows what she will turn to next.

    I hope that your lawyer can negotiate a substantial payoff for you to leave the company including an agreed reference in the future and that your life becomes an oasis of calm and happy times.

  53. H3llifIknow*

    All I kept thinking was “WOW!” over and over. I’ve always thought to myself when things were bad at work “No, don’t get a lawyer; that’s the nuclear reaction,” but reading this, I’m so glad you did and so glad you didn’t let Bananapants or the lousy local HR break you and make YOU the one to give up and leave. Kudos to you and many best wishes that your recovery continues successfully and fully!

  54. learnedthehardway*

    Good for your manager, your lawyer, and the CHRO. I’m just so sorry you had to deal with all this!!

    I’m totally baffled by the actions of the HR manager and director – how on earth could they possibly think their actions were reasonable, let alone legal?!??!

    Aubrey is just bizarre and absolutely irrational.

    On the whole, if you do go back, I would consider that your management and the CHRO had your back, and did the right things. The idiots have been cleaned out, and some major change in the company might be just what was needed. I doubt you’re the only person who had issues with the HR staff (they sounded terminally incompetent). You might just find you are the conquering hero, when you return.

      1. Overit*

        Agreed. I would always be waiting for another banana to fall from the tree. Not worth it.

  55. Sabrina*

    I don’t even know where to start, I think I need to lay down for a bit to recover from reading this.

    Thank you so much for the update, never would I have guessed how many bad choices your company and coworker would be making!

  56. Here for the updates.*

    Wow, I really wasn’t prepared for all that. Bombastic side-eye to everyone who enabled this behavior for so long. I hope you continue to recover and your next job is normal!

  57. 2cents*

    My eyes got wider and wider until I thought they’d pop out of my head. This has to be one of the wildest workplace stories I’ve ever seen.

  58. Anonymous Pygmy Possum*

    OP, I’m so sorry you had to go through all of that. I’m glad the CHRO cleaned house but I’m sorry you had to deal with Audrey SHOWING UP AT YOUR HOUSE???? And deal with a huge amount of dysfunctional HR while on medical leave. I’m not sure if I could go back either if I went through everything you did, even if the same situation won’t happen again in the future.

  59. Mugs*

    Oh. My. God. “And then she came to my house”….I literally had to get up and take a break and stretch a little before sitting back down to read the rest.

    You are a nicer person than I. I would have called the police.

    Also, well done!! I hope you’re very proud of yourself for going the extra mile on this! Great example for the rest of us. You’re amazing!!!

  60. I WORKED on a Hellmouth*

    This. Was. AMAZING.

    I keep imagining Aubrey hurriedly shoving her samples deep into her banana bag before sprinting away in her banana slippers.

  61. Tio*

    This letter has lived rent-free in my head since it was posted, thank you SO MUCH for the update, OP, and I’m glad you showed them what for!

  62. Certified Scorpion Trainer*

    this update actually made my adrenal glands hurt.

    i don’t think i’ve ever opened my eyes so wide.

  63. laser99*

    The LW should book it out of there ASAP. However: How should she answer this question at interviews—“Why did you leave your last job?”

      1. Bewildered*

        “Oh you’re NOT going to believe about all the bananas that I had to get trough”.

      2. Peanut Hamper*

        Congratulations! You have won the internet!

        (But I would seriously consider this.)

    1. Irish Teacher.*

      I’m imagining her responding with “I left because the place went from bananapants to full banana ensemble.”

  64. Periwinkel*

    Best post of 2023. Can’t imagine anything topping this one.
    OP, you definitely deserve a fantastic rest of your life! Best of luck!

  65. knitcrazybooknut*

    I have been reading AAM for YEARS and we all know we’ve seen some wackadoo shit on this website. But I have NEVER held both hands over my mouth while my eyebrows crawled up into my hairline and a silent scream echoed through my head. Your literal HOUSE??????? Wow.

  66. Bluz*

    Holy cow. What did I just read here? It was totally banana ensemble! I might have to use it in conversation somehow. LW wishing you much luck on your job search. Here’s hoping the next company is not bananapants.

  67. The Eye of Argon*

    This wasn’t just bananapants; this was a full-on banana PLANTATION!

    Your lawyer and the CHRO rock and are awesome. Aubrey, her MLM ilk, and the lower levels of HR who enabled her and tried to screw you over suck spent nuclear fuel rods (useless, dangerous, and contaminate everything they touch unless securely contained and buried under a mountain.)

    1. The Eye of Argon*

      Oh, and your MIL also rocks awesomely. We should all be so lucky as to have a relative who will stand by to repel boarders come hell, high water, or bananapants.

  68. JTP*

    First, my jaw hit the floor. When she SHOWED UP AT YOUR HOUSE, it fell into the basement. I hope you are healing well and best of luck in your job search!

  69. Kate*

    LW – my mouth dropped open and I made an involuntary loud sound when I got to the section where she SHOWED UP AT YOUR HOUSE.

    I’m so glad you wrote in in February, and so glad you hired an attorney and were documenting the hell out of this situation and stepping things up to the GrandBoss of HR. I am aghast at what you went through.

    Kudos to the GrandBoss of HR for swiftly dealing with those HR minions that were being terrible to you (and by extension creating a terrible work environment for everyone), and for making things right.

    Best wishes to you in your recovery!!

  70. The Eye of Argon*

    Oh, the nice people over at PinkTruth dot com would just love this story. They mostly focus on Mary Kay, but they expose shenanigans from all MLM “businesses”.

    1. Un-Culturated*

      I have to confess to being completely of two minds when it comes to MLMs. There are at least a half-dozen (and if you include discontinued products or out-of-business companies, more than a full dozen) health, beauty and cleaning products that I have absolutely loved and, in my experience, have accept-no-substitute performance. When it comes to the companies which have high-quality, integrity-driven proprietary technology, I’m an absolute stan.
      But do I want to be an unrelenting Stepford-MLMer? Oh, so not.
      Do I want to be accosted by someone like Aubrey? Even less.
      If it requires a cult, I’ll have to do without.

      1. I WORKED on a Hellmouth*

        The also deliberately target poor women and minorities and leave many of them in financial ruins–they are HELLA predatory.

      2. Expelliarmus*

        I thought if you buy from an MLM, you have to become one of them and market to others? Hence why people say it’s like a legal pyramid scheme. How do you avoid falling into that trap?

        1. L*

          Most will just sell items to you but once you buy from an MLM once they will normally never stop trying to sell to you and most times will eventually try to recruit you as a downline.

  71. brjeau*

    This is neither here nor there, but OP you’re a great writer and storyteller. The story is wild enough on its own but you really nailed the delivery. Thank you for sharing this update, and best wishes for a truly restful recovery. (And thanks to your lawyer for giving the go-ahead to update us!)

  72. TomatoSoup*

    I saw “hold on to your bananapants” and I literally stopped to put the kettle on for some piping hot tea. That was A LOT. I’m glad that at least Audrey is gone. I’m glad there was someone in charge who could see how ridiculously everyone was behaving.

    On a separate note, I’d be it is pretty unpleasant in Audrey’s head. In my experience, people who treat other people like that are even worse to themselves. This is not an excuse to behave that way, but I hope she finds her way to a healthier place (not through an MLM!).

  73. emmelemm*

    On reading it, the “Aubrey showed up at my house” is certainly a show-stopper, but consider: we’ve had other letters where a co-worker has shown up at a LW’s house for dubious reasons.

    The real jaw-dropper in the letter is an HR professional, at any level, saying “medical documentation doesn’t carry that much weight”.

    1. SpicySpice*

      Yeah, that was the “gasp out loud” moment for me too. All across the country, the ears of every employment lawyer started tingling and they didn’t know why – like a disturbance in the Force.

  74. Essentially Cheesy*

    This was not just a banana pants update, but a Peanut Butter Jelly time suit update. Wow.

  75. TigerPants*

    May I just add that your mother-in-law sounds amazing? However – no one recovering from illness/surgery/anything should require a family member to act as their bouncer to keep honey-crusted nutbar coworkers out of their own home!! Kudos on navigating this like a professional and sorry you had to in the first place.

  76. RWM*

    The GASP I let out at “Then she showed up at my house.” OP!!!!! Wild story but I’m so glad she’s finally gone. (Absolutely ridiculous it took this much time and effort on your part to make that happen, though!!!)

  77. Q*

    I’m intrigued by the phrase “red flag mediation.” Is this a formal HR term? Where can I find a definition?

    1. I'm Just Here For The Cats!*

      I’m thinking its some garbage the company made up. What I don’t get is why is a mediation going against someone’s raises? I can see if the person was an instigator but the way the LW sounded in the first letter it sounds like it goes against anyone who has a mediation, regardless if they are an instigator or not.

      1. Overit*

        That issue is reason enough to doubt the integrity of every HR staffer. That kind of policy exists to discourage staff feom reporting harassment and unethical behaviors. It is a sweep it under the rug policy.

    2. BubbleTea*

      I think it was that the suggestion of mediation was itself a red flag of the layers of disfunction beneath the surface.

  78. Nook Nook*

    I said “what” so many times, Samuel L Jackson dared me to say “what” again…

    Wow. Thank you for this bananapants update. Lawyers. Crazy coworker. Horrible HR. An awful MLM. It had everything!

  79. Kaboobie*

    I would say its a coincidence that I just finished listening to a podcast that discussed the similarities between cult tactics and MLM-recruiting tactics, but TBH that covers a lot of my podcast listening! I hope Audrey is deserted by her entire downline, because I guarantee she is bullying them too. And I wish the LW all the time she needs to recover in peace and find the job of her dreams.

      1. Kaboobie*

        The specific podcast I referenced is A Little Bit Culty, which talks to survivors of all sorts of cultic groups as well as experts in the field of coercive control. If you’ve seen “The Vow” on HBO, this podcast is hosted by NXIVM whistleblowers Sarah and Nippy. Emily Lynn Paulson was their guest this week; she has a book coming out about her MLM experience. And for another very good podcast that focuses specifically on MLM, I highly recommend Life After MLM by Roberta Blevins, who was in the “Lularich” documentary on Amazon Prime. :)

    1. starsaphire*

      Oooo I will have to check that out!

      I am also a fan of Illuminaughti on YouTube. She has a Monday MLM series that is pretty awesome.

      I noted that there were a lot of us who were detecting the faint whiff of MLM snake-oil in that first post. I’m so glad that people are becoming more aware of how insidious that stuff is.

  80. Elizabeth West*

    Holy banana pudding, Batman! 0_0

    OP your mother-in-law is a full-on hero. I don’t even know her but I love her.

  81. ChemistryChick*

    My eyebrows went through the ceiling at “Then she showed up at my house.”

    HOLY MOTHER OF PEARL, OP! I’m so glad you’re rid of Aubrey and that horrendous HR person. The way you handled this was just so amazing, though I’m sorry you had to go through it at all.

    I wish you nothing but the best in whatever the future holds for you.

  82. TomatoSoup*

    As a former labor and employment attorney, my soul slightly left my body upon seeing that someone in HR would write “FMLA and ADA reasonable accommodations, “doesn’t hold much weight” with the company” IN AN EMAIL. Saying it at all or implying it is very bad but this is….something else.

    1. Lurker*

      Yeah, when I read that my eyebrows went up! It’s one thing to think that (and even if you think it, you should probably not vocalize it), but for an HR person to put that in writing! I was like, “This isn’t going to end well for HR/the company.”

  83. Kevin Sours*

    I just wanted to note that this is a prime example of how getting a lawyer can help you navigate a situation without necessarily escalating it. Having somebody to tell you your rights as well as providing the confidence of having somebody to deal with the backlash if insisting on the goes sideways can help you resolve things without resorting to a lawsuit.

  84. Tess McGill*

    My mouth actually dropped open when I got to the “showed up at my house” bit. LW – I hope you are able to find a new position that is safe, fulfilling, makes you happy and where no one “wears banana-pants”. Best of luck to you!

  85. goddessoftransitory*

    OMG, this was an entire banana wardrobe with accessories and car thrown in! I don’t think I’ve read an update this bizarre since the spicy food thief!

  86. Observer*

    I love the line “Now we move from bananpants to full-on banana ensemble” I’m just sorry that it happened.

    It sounds like things may change back for the better from what you say. The CHRO did handle the situation appropriately, and they apparently let the people who messed up so badly go. So perhaps HR will start to act reasonably again.

    This is going to go down in the annals of AAM, and it’s going to one of the classic “kick this all the way to the top because it’s possible that someone up there has some brains” situations.

    1. Kevin Sours*

      Maybe. Because there are still some questions to be answered. How did the CHRO let things get that bad to begin with? This went on for a long time with various levels of management being “baffled and upset” about what was happening. Firing a couple of low level people isn’t going to fix this. The department needs a complete fumigation. It’s not clear that this happened or that the people let the rot set in that deep are capable if fixing it.

      1. Observer*

        Good points.

        One really important question is whether the HR person who told the LW that their medical documentation “doesn’t hold much weight” got fired. If not, that’s a really bad sign.

      2. SBDavin*

        Yes! Credit to the CHRO for handling it right but how in the world did lower and mid-level HR COMPLETELY muck it up to begin with!? I have a feeling that these folks may have pulled similar crap on others and those employees just accepted it. CHRO needs to clean house ASAP.

      3. Csethiro Ceredin*

        I did wonder how the managers didn’t already escalate this to the head of HR. If someone was treating someone who reported to me like this, and HR was responding like THAT, I’d be escalating like crazy.

  87. A person in retail*

    You have more restraint than I do if you didn’t say, “So you are telling me that *federal law* ‘doesn’t carry much weight’ with Company?” And that turned out not to be the most bananapants part!

  88. Dust Bunny*

    (And I did check with my lawyer about emailing this update and they laughed and said I couldn’t leave people hanging after all that.)


    1. Dust Bunny*

      Side note: I hope your executive-level HR people are now supervising your lower- to mid-level HR people a lot more closely now.

  89. Aelswitha*

    Wow. WOW. I don’t comment here often, but I have to say that I SHRIEKED and frightened the cat when I read “Aubrey showed up at my door”. I wish you well in your recovery and job search, and I hope Aubrey is forced into bankruptcy a.s.a.p.

  90. Silicon Valley Girl*

    I hate that this happened to OP, but I love that we got to read it. Thank you for sharing your epic tale.

  91. JoAnna*

    Banana ensemble is an understatement. This was a banana fashion show with looney tunes characters doing the modeling and dodo birds judging the participants.

    I’m at least glad to hear that the chief of HR wasn’t inept, as her underlings apparently were.

    And yes, MLMs are cults. The fact that neither of the women with her thought this was a bad idea is proof of that.

    1. AnonToday*

      It seems likely that the two women with her had no idea of the truth of the situation. Aubrey’s version seems like it wouldn’t contain much reality.

      1. Former Young Lady*

        If they were involved in an MLM themselves, I guarantee they were already living in their own alternate reality.

  92. Fikly*

    I do hope that lawyer has also helped OP get a restraining order, because I do believe they will need one.

  93. Sara without an H*

    Thank you, LW, for supplying support for my repeated comments on this website that it is always, always good to have documentation whenever something hinky happens at work.

    I agree with you about starting a job search — Alison has lots of good advice in the archives. Given that your company is about to undergo a reorg, I don’t think you need to run for the hills just yet, but it would be good to start looking at what’s out there. The new organizational structure may solve some problems. On the other hand, you may return to the office and find yourself described in hushed whispers as “She-Who-Hired-a-Lawyer-and-Got-the-Whole-HR-Team-FIRED!!!”

    Good luck and please hug your mother-in-law for me.

  94. Berkeleyfarm*

    Wow, this whole thing was just one wild ride. OP, I am sorry that you had to go up to the C level to find someone who actually gave a care about the actual law/preventing the company from losing big in a lawsuit, but I’m glad that person was there. And you lawyered up.

  95. Cat's Paw for Cats*

    Good lord. I have seen a lot in my day, but I have yet to have someone show up at my door. Wow. Just wow.

  96. Michelle Smith*

    I literally screamed and put my hands on my head when I read that SHE CAME TO YOUR HOUSE.


    OMG, OP I am so sorry you went through all of this. I’m glad that you are getting the rest you need to recover now but I am just off the wall stunned. I am floored. So much love and light to you.

  97. Julia*

    “Aubrey showed up at my door on a weekend with two other women in tow”

    I audibly went “What? No way!” so now the entire admin office is reading the original post and update.

  98. Quoth the Raven*

    Look, I speak five languages, and yet there are no words I can find to properly react to this update, let alone words that be used in polite society. This is insane.

    I wish you a speedy recovery and the best of luck, whether you choose to stay or go!

  99. TWB*

    As soon as I read about Aubrey’s behaviour on the original letter, I’ve been waiting for the MLM flag to drop

    I wouldn’t be surprised if the two people she was with then they showed up at OP’s house were part of her upline, who have been shaming Aubrey about how she hasn’t been working hard enough to make them money, and offered to show her how to convert the sale.


    1. Outofthepool*

      My MIL would have done that for me. She was a take-no-prisoners woman if anyone ever tried to bother one of her family. I miss her so much. She died several years ago.

    2. GiantKitty*

      Why is this unexpected? I know more people that get along with their mother in laws than don’t.

      1. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

        Thank you for that. My mother has very good relationships with both my partners, and with my brother’s girlfriend.

      2. OrigCassandra*

        I don’t miss my ex-husband in the slightest, but I do miss his mom. She’s a cool person.

  100. TeenieBopper*

    Jesus. Every time I said to myself “that’s the banana-est of pants” there was another paragraph!

  101. HR Exec Popping In*

    OMFG and sweet bananapants! That was so much crazy. Thank goodness the CHRO was shocked or I would have had to turn my HR badge in. (puts my face in my hand and shakes my head at the incompetence)

  102. alex (they/them)*

    “While that sounds difficult, at least things are improving-”

    “And then she showed up at my house.”

    “w h a t”

  103. SometimesALurker*

    “…and suffice it to say, Aubrey is now a full-time “wellness coach.”” was my favorite line in all of this!

  104. Snoozing not schmoozing*

    Good grief. But that’s no worse than the BananaTrouser HR person at my ex-employer. When my husband got badly injured in our PUBLIC building, and all I asked was that the out-of-pocket expenses get covered, BTHR laughed and said I should have signed up for AFLAC. What the actual %#@! About a week later, the CFO of our organization came to my office and told me she had just heard about the accident, and that I should stay home the next day because their insurance person, who she’d made aware of the incident, would visit my husband and me. Thanks to CFO, we got a big enough check to pay not only for out-of-pocket expenses, but also for our son’s remaining two years of university. When will they realize how expensive stupidity can be?

  105. zolk*

    oh my god, good on OP for getting a lawyer, going to the top, and now planning to get OUT. What a hot mess and wild ride start to finish!! That must have been so stressful for you, and I’m sorry about that! What a relief to have it 95% behind you now.

  106. Just a Clarifier*

    My jaw actually dropped open and my eyes bulged reading this update. Holy smokes, LW. I’m so glad you lawyered up and went over the heads of the wildly incompetent HR. Cannot imagine the legal liabilities – head of HR must have been beyond angry. That’s the kind of situation that you actually start yelling about. And then the AUDACITY to come to your home?! This person in unhinged. Good for you for taking care of yourself. Holy macaroni. What an update.

  107. ProducerNYC*

    The way this kept getting absurdly worse!! Showing up at your HOUSE, OP!! I’m so sorry you had to deal with this for so long. Aubrey sounds like a menace and I already feel bad for anyone unfortunate enough to be her client. I’m so glad you got legal help. B-A-N-A-N-A-S!

  108. That_guy*

    I hope that the OP gets the company to pay her legal fees. She should not have to hire a lawyer to have the company meet it’s legal obligations.
    Not that I have any idea how to go about that.

    1. I'm Just Here For The Cats!*

      Hec, if I was that lawyer I would have taken it just for the fun of it!

  109. WhyAreThereSoManyBadManagers*

    Holy guacamole, this was a “audibly-gasped-out-loud-multiple-times” update!!! Just thank goodness there was one sane person at the top of HR who could finally turn things around. Aubrey is in serious need of mental health help. I know a friend or two who went the way of MLMs and I just don’t recognize them anymore, brainwashed is not just a cliche term. Good luck to you OP with your fully-remote search!

  110. Tiny clay insects*

    I literally said YES out loud when you said you got a lawyer. Good for you for not tolerating this ludicrousness! (I also like the idea of a full banana ensemble.)

  111. MeepMeep123*

    As a lawyer, I can just imagine the professional glee with which OP’s lawyer approached that situation. It’s rare to get something this easy. Or this banana-attired. I’m so glad OP is getting out of there.

    1. I'm Just Here For The Cats!*

      oh gosh yest! Audry now blames OP for losing her job. “WHY DON’T YOU EXCEPT THAT FITNESS MLM IS YOUR SAVOR? LISTEN TO MY PROPHECY!”

  112. SoreThroat*

    Thank you for this amazing update. It was the birthday present I didn’t know I needed. Bananapants crazy doesn’t even BEGIN to describe this one!!

  113. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

    Confession: that someone who made it to an HR director position, told OP with a straight face “that medical documentation, including both FMLA and ADA reasonable accommodations, “doesn’t hold much weight” with the company”, shocked me even more than anything Aubrey did.

    1. a perfect day for bananapantsfish*

      Yes indeedy! CHRO needs to clean house & start over. Everything’s gone pear-shaped in bananapantsland.

        1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          I hope it’s not a pear-shaped banana! As someone who loves pears more than bananas, that’d be a huge letdown. (But on brand for that workplace, which has been a huge letdown in many ways.)

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        omg your nickname, I just noticed it and I love it! I adored Nine Stories as a teenager. And I’m sure Seymour would’ve come up with the perfect story about how bananapantsfish live. (Something something they will get out of the water and come to your home to eat all your bananas – but they’ll also bring you the special banana peeler they’re selling and try to get you to buy it from them!)

  114. English Rose*

    I’m just sitting here with my mouth hanging open! I mean we read a lot of batshit crazy stuff here on AAM but this…!!!

  115. Niniel*

    SO. Aubrey is 1,000% the most bananapants MLM person I have read about to date. HOWEVER.

    Now we know EXACTLY why she was so pissed off! Because if people see that someone can lose all that weight WITHOUT her whackadoo “supplements” and “program,” she can’t recruit more people at her job. And it also means that her entire life as it is today….is a lie.

    All of these things are 100% her fault for falling into the MLM trap, but this update makes the whole story make a bit more sense.

    1. Outofthepool*

      Agreed, but people really should not have to have a life-threatening tumor situation to lose weight. I’m glad OP found a competent doctor as well as the Lawyer of the Year.

  116. curio*

    “Then she showed up at my house.”

    The way my jaw hit the floor. Absolutely nothing prepared me for that.

  117. XF1013*

    OP, I’m so glad that this resolved favorably for you! This has been an update for the ages. Thanks for sharing.

    I think my favorite part of this saga is that Aubrey had *so many* chances to stop. She was given warnings from you, colleagues, managers, and HR that her terrible “coaching” was unwanted and even risking her job, but she barreled right past all of this advice, confident that she was right. You showed her a very generous amount of grace, even writing that you had empathy for her *after* she dragged you into a formal mediation with HR where she complained that *she* was the victim. Everything would have turned out fine for her if, at any point, she had simply decided not to die on this specific health-advice hill, but she refused. That’s an astonishing level of obstinance.

  118. HearTwoFour*

    I’m wondering if there would be any benefit to reporting Aubrey to her MLM as someone who is categorically dangerous.

    1. Ginger Cat Lady*

      I cannot even tell you how little MLMs care about the behavior of their reps. They do not care even a little bit about ethics or good business behavior. They are too busy scamming people to worry about something like this.

    2. SB*

      They actively encourage & teach members the aggressive sales pitch. Reporting her to her upline will probably get her a pat on the back at her weekly cult meeting!!!

  119. spaceygrl*

    Super interesting how everything’s turned out… Question, and asking because I truly don’t know… Do you have to pay for the attorney? There is nothing where, because the company clearly had issues, they’ll reimburse you? It’s just so interesting to me that you have to pay out of pocket to fix something within your company.

  120. DivergentStitches*

    Hoooooly craaaaaaaap! GOOD FOR YOU for standing your ground! I know it was super tempting to tell her why you had surgery because I would certainly have been wanting to see the look on her smug face. Wishing you the best!

  121. Troutwaxer*

    I’ve thought a lot about this over the last few weeks, and my sincere hope is that another update is not required, unless it is of the “I got an great new job and never saw Aubrey again!”

  122. Llama Identity Thief*

    I’m here for the bananapants bracket. Which is more unbelievable, spicy food thief or cheap ass rolls? Weight loss drive-by or the un-manager?

  123. Relentlessly Socratic*

    Aubrey is now a full-time “wellness coach.”

    That’s it. I never need to read the internet ever again. Nothing will top this story.

  124. Csethiro Ceredin*

    Congratulations to OP on the outcome and sanity mostly prevailing!

    … but I really need to know what was wrong with HR. I can see a single totally bonkers person like Aubrey running amok for too long, but more than one HR person seem to have been arguably even worse.

    HR didn’t so much drop the ball as hurl it into molten lava while grinning smugly at their ball handling skills.

    1. raincoaster*

      Cults like to swarm companies. One gets in there and hires the rest. Look at Landmark.

  125. Your genderqueer dad*

    This update rivals the person who was let go after their coworker stole their spicy lunch. This is a bananapants split with extra nuts.

    1. GiantKitty*

      It made me think of the person who had such serious anxiety that when a coworker didn’t say goodbye, they opened her paystub and went to her house to confront her (search “my anxiety caused a work problem”)

    2. Kaboobie*

      That was where my mind immediately went, but that was one rogue HR person and it sounds like the whole department was to blame here. In any case, I’m so glad OP got a lawyer, because even a competent HR department is there to protect the employer, not the employee.

  126. Luna*

    Dang, Aubrey should be considering herself lucky that your MIL was the only gatekeeper she had to deal with. This could have become a police issue, including a restraining order from you against her, if not worse.
    Not that I say I would have much empathy if that had happened, but it’s a case of worst case working itself out the best for her.

  127. Zarniwoop*

    “ the HR staff involed in the red flag meeting/threatening to write me up were let go.”
    What about the HR director who said medical documentation didn’t count for much? If he’s still employed there that’s a problem.

  128. Abogado Avocado*

    Wow, when the going gets bananapants, OP, you are one total badass! You got additional medical leave AND enabled the company to set Ashley free to pursue her, uh, MLM dreams. Way to go!

  129. raincoaster*

    “ Now we move from bananapants to full-on banana ensemble.” that sentence is going down in AAM history.

  130. Colorado*

    Then she showed up at my house.

    Okay, I lost it here. Thank you for the update! Best of luck on your job search.

  131. GiantKitty*

    “ Then she showed up at my house.”

    The way I gasped….

    I’m so glad she’s no longer part of this company and I hope you can find a better position elsewhere.

  132. GingerApple*

    My grand niece loves animays (they are cartoons from Japan) and she taught me the perfect phrase for this: nanee the f*ck? Glad it worked out, blesseings.

  133. Miche*

    “I’m still on leave and out of the blue, Aubrey showed up at my door.”
    I’ve read this column for years and this is the first time I’ve ever gasped out loud while reading! My jaw literally dropped.

    Loved the ending with Aubrey becoming a full-time wellness consultant. Very satisfying conclusion. I wish the best for the writer on their recovering.

    1. Gary Patterson’s Cat*

      Aubrey has some serious issues.
      I seriously hope she doesn’t get any clients.

  134. Gary Patterson’s Cat*

    Omg! I’m so sorry you went through all this after what must have been a huge medical scare. Thank goodness at least a few people at your company did have some common sense at least, but man, nothing should have ever escalated that far.

    And Aubry? Just what the heck? Why was HR protecting her after her actions? That part is beyond crazy. Was she friends with the local HR or something?

    1. Expelliarmus*

      OP: “Yep, that’s me. You’re probably wondering how I got here, with a bananapants coworker outside of my house. Well, it all started with life-saving surgery “

  135. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

    If the LW is Mary Smith and lives in Chicago or Los Angeles, finding her home address might take some work.But a lot of people have uncommon names (like my real name) or lives in somewhere the size of Hoboken, it was probably easy.

    That doesn’t mean she didn’t get it from HR, only that she may not have needed to ask them.

  136. Just Alma Now*

    I know there are already so many nominees for Worst Boss of the Year, but this one just took a flying leap forward! I never knew there could be so much drama in such a short letter.

    1. Kyrielle*

      Except the boss in this one is fine, the problem is a coworker and the local (but not upper) HR organization. But yes, this one is WILD.

  137. Anti-ageism*

    George is roughly my grandfather’s age, so this entire situation bewildered both him and his replacement…

    Why do you think the situation “bewildered” him? Everything else you write indicates that the problem was with HR and that indeed George supported you in your communications with HR. You seem to want to stereotype George because he is older. Please rethink this.

    1. Jane*

      She meant it bewildered him in a good way. George was bewildered that Aubrey and HR were acting this way. :)

    2. Lizy*

      I dunno – if I was old and saw All The Stuff and had this happen, I’d be pretty bewildered too. This one bewilders the bewildered.

    3. Snell*

      I mean, if George believed he was working under, over, and alongside professional adults…and then Aubrey did that, and HR did THAT, and all George’s appeals to reason lead to HR saying that FMLA and ADA reasonable accommodations don’t hold much weight with the company (and documenting that in email as their stance!)…yeah, that’s a bewildering situation. George reacted as anyone might.

    4. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      Because he’d been in the professional world for decades, and with the company for presumably a long time, and was used to his reports and HR acting in a professional manner and not in… whatever that was.

      Sometimes when people say someone’s old, they really do mean wise. It would behoove us old folks to say thank you and move on, seeing as we’re wise and all that.

  138. Bubbles*

    The most bizarre thing about this story is that the whole HR department turns out to be even more of a toxic web of preconceived nincompoops than the crazy colleague.

  139. Lizy*

    “And then she showed up at my house.”

    Whut. I just. Whut. I …. Uh…. How…. Eh…. Whaaaaaaaaaa

  140. SB*

    MLMs are really not so different from a cult in the way they suck people in & they absolutely cause people to do crazy things. I have lost friends due to their involvement in MLMs & their inability to see how much damage they are doing to their relationships by using every single social interaction as an opportunity for a sales pitch. Obviously we don’t know if Aubrey was batcrap bonkers before she joined an MLM but being part of these things will put anyone over the edge.

    Also, my guess is…Beachbody??

  141. eeeek*

    HONEST TO (gawd-or-whatever) I keep looking for images appropriate to “bananapants” and honestly, I get some images returned that are like, cute PJ pant printed with bananas. Some have more or less bananas. Some take it very seriously, and seem to show images of what it would look like with pants replicating banana peels. All of these might be seen as banana pants. And hey! I’m a sewist! I make pants! I could stitch any banana printed fabric up fairly easily, using my go-to pattern and whatnot! $100 minimum of custom-printed fabric, and more $$ for skills and notions, and you, TOO, could get you some actual banana pants!

    BUT THIS. Honestly, I am looking for images of trousers made from actual BUNCHES OF BANANAS woven or formed somehow into a pants-like shape, bruised and rotting or not (though, tbh? this story? ROTTING). This is performance-art level banana pants. Beyond my skill to imagine. (Like, this is “Paging: Lady Gaga” level Banana Pants.) Holy moly.

    Dear OP, thanks for the update. I wish you all the best, and may you ever avoid such bananapants in your future.

    1. Kaboobie*

      LOL. I think we all want to avoid the bananapants, not actually wear them. ;)

      At least, that’s the case for me. I hate bananas, so it’s very appropriate stand-in for the ableist term it replaces.

  142. Awesome3*

    “(And I did check with my lawyer about emailing this update and they laughed and said I couldn’t leave people hanging after all that.)”

    I’m so glad you got a lawyer AND so glad they okayed the update!

    1. Random Dice*

      I laughed at that too. Lawyers so often have to pretend not to have senses of humor, so I’m glad they were able to let it out.

  143. Middle Aged Lady*

    If Aubrey hasn’t seen the OP in a while, I am guessing she showed up hoping the OP would have ‘gained the weight back’ and she could swoop in with her cronies and play savior and gotcha and MLM drama fodder games all rolled into one.
    I haver never heard of a fitness stalker. Even at my age, people surprise me.
    OP, your mid-level HR people are not only cruel but stupid. I am glad they got their comeuppance and that your MIL, CHRO, and bosses had your back. And ggrrrr on Medical gaslighting!

  144. Rando (a new one)*

    While scrolling I managed to make the sentence “she showed up at my house” the last line onscreen, and I legit screamed

  145. Bookworm*

    First: I’m SO sorry, OP. As entertaining as this update was, this was absolutely horrible for you to go through I’m sorry.

    Second: Holy cow. O_O. Thank you very much for this update. I do enjoy updates even if they’re “boring” but then every once awhile there’s one of these. Sheesh. Good luck in the future, as I hope this works out.

  146. Miette*

    Hello yes I have now reread this entire thing for the tenth time. What an amazing outcome, I am still floored.

  147. IrishEm*

    The holiest of moly. Wow. Yeah no with the way that whole saga was (mis) handled I’d have no trust whatsoever left that they wouldn’t mess more stuff up. I couldn’t stay with that employer another minute. good luck, LW and I sincerely hope you have good health and uneventful times from now on.

  148. 1-800-BrownCow*

    My chin now has rugburn from hitting the floor so many times….I don’t have words for how crazy this whole situation is. You can’t make this stuff up!!!

    Why do I get the feeling that even IF Aubrey was told the actual reason for the weightloss, she wouldn’t change her stance on the whole situation at all?? I can picture her still telling OP she shouldn’t have used such drastic measures to lose weight and continue to pitch her MLM cult. I’m secretly hoping karma comes back on Aubrey and the MLM things bombs big time.

    Can we nominate HR as the Worst HR of the Century, because what the actual f…..?

    OP, I can’t even begin to imagine all the stress and whatnot you’ve been through between the medical stuff, HR and Aubrey. I hope your world gets better from here on out! And I’m sending lots of positive energy as I’d love to see an update in the future of how your personal and professional life changes for the better.

    Kudos to your lawyer and MIL. Glad you had their support!

  149. jane's nemesis*

    I think I *begged* for an update on the original post, and I am SO HAPPY that it happened and that it was THIS JUICY. Of course, I also remain sympathetic to OP!!!

  150. B Wayne*

    This has to be the best letter and follow up I’ve ever read on AAM. I wish LW the best and…wow! Just a heck of a story!

  151. Bob-White of the Glen*

    Oh holy cheezeballs! Wow, what an update. I haven’t read through the comments yet OP, but I imagine I’m going to echo what a lot of other people are saying – great job on the follow up and getting the situation resolved in a calm, legal and efficient manner. I am so glad that going up the chain resulted in the loss of a lot of bad players from your company. I hope, if you decide to go back, it makes the workplace much nicer.

    And I hope Aubrey ends up in bankruptcy court, which is the most successful thing MLMs do.

    Hoping you are healing well, both physically and mentally, and you just made the workplace a lot saner for a lot of people as I guarantee you were not the only one they were tormenting. Great job!

  152. OlympiasEpiriot*


    That’s a Swiss Army knife of an update.

    That’s a Unseen University Cabinet of Curiosities update.


  153. Polly*

    I had gastric bypass surgery, lost weight and became very healthy. I went from about 230 pounds to about 125. Someone who saw me, came up to me and said that I looked like I was in a concentration camp. Needless to say, I was shocked. This persons had no idea I am Jewish. I went to my manager and then went to HR with my manager. I received a half-assed apology and nothing happened. That person eventually quit. Word spread like a wildfire.

    1. Middle Aged Lady*

      I am beyond horrified on your behalf. So very sorry you had to go through it in the first place, but the half-assed apology is almost worse than the original comment. To know that others go along with a dreadful person’s behavior is disheartening at best, and frightening in the extreme at its worst, as you are well aware.
      I wish we lived in a world where we could go on forums and call them all out by name. Like the poor actresses who say ‘film exec groped me’ but will never work again if they say his name.
      I wish you could name the company, name the person, take out billboards to warn others that these people are perps and enablers. Sadly we don’t live in that world.
      My lowest moment at work was as a teen waitress when one of the owners came in and said loudly, ‘why don’t you hire some girls with big tits in here? No one wants THAT’ (gesturing towards me) to my manager. Angry, humiliated, powerless, objectified. Some customers looked uncomfortable, but not one person said a word. I gritted my teeth and kept on pouring coffee. I had been kicked out of my parents’ house and needed the money to survive. I gritted my teeth and kept on for so, so many years in restaurants. The sexism is appalling. Finally landed something good at libraries for 25 years, but then ended up at a non profit where toxic management permanently ended my career with a mental breakdown. Thanks for the 8 years of missing wages and permanent ding to my Social Security benefit! Hugs to all of us!

  154. His Grace*

    I was internally screaming when I read the part about Aubrey showing up at your house. Bananapants is an understatement. But good to hear it was resolved.

  155. Kate in Colorado*

    I have never had such an audible reaction to an update ever. Holy moly the way I gasped out loud- multiple times!!- and said, “Noooooo” scared my dog. Too bad I was working from home when I read this. This masterpiece needs to be shared with everyone’s best work friend.

    Thanks for sharing, OP (and thanks to your lawyer who gets us). Best wishes on your continued recovery!

  156. LilPinkSock*

    Oh wow, this was quite the read. LW, I hope your health recovers completely with no lasting damage.

    I would like to say what I think about MLMs and the people who are involved with them, but I think I would get banned from this site (and possibly the entire internet). Aubrey sucks and I’m glad she lost her job.

  157. welshcharityguru*

    Oh. My. Word. Totally bananapants. I mean, OP, the fact that you’re able to write about this with what seems to be considerable grace and almost humour is incredible.
    Well done for standing up for yourself too.

  158. Former_Employee*

    I am not a fan of HR in general, but I believe that the criticisms of the chief HR officer are probably unfounded. It appears that this is a large corporation given that the chief is 5 levels above whoever was in charge at the OP’s office.

    It’s a little like expecting that the CEO would know that a department head at one of their locations was a jerk.

    As far as Aubrey is concerned, she sounds like someone suffering from what is known as Idée Fixe, which means she is obsessed with an idea and can’t be made to understand that there is an alternative to he thinking on the subject.

    Of course, this in no way excuses her behavior and does not explain why the HR Dept took her side, especially as all of the managers including her own boss thought that HR should be reprimanding her. The only thing I can think of is that sometimes when people are totally convinced about something they are able to persuade others that they must be right.

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