my new employee is the parent of my child’s bully

A reader writes:

I received a promotion last month after several stressful years. The money will be life-changing. I’m working out of a different office much closer to home, I’ll be doing work I care about, and I’ll have more time with my family.

The company filled an open role at my new location just before I was promoted; I didn’t participate in the hiring process for this person. I did not know they hired the parent of my child’s bully. This isn’t just a few meetings with the principal kind of bully situation. We almost lost our child because of “Timmy.” We moved our child and their siblings to a different school, then we sold our home and moved to the other side of the county. We had to involve the police at one point, resulting in being granted a restraining order against Timmy, who is now finally facing other legal consequences for his behavior. Both kids are still quite young, so I’m still shocked at the cruel and awful things I witnessed my child go through at the hands of a peer, feeling helpless and out of control while we begged the school and his parents to intervene.

Our family life is finally settling down and this new work opportunity felt like a new start for us after the pain and fear we’ve gone through. My child is finally beginning to heal and get their life and joy back. We’re all in treatment as a family and individually to help recover from all of this.

The company hired Timmy’s mother, “Jane,” to fill this role, and I will be managing her. My first day meeting the team, she went pale when she saw me. I’m sure I probably did the same.

I know everyone else on this team and have great rapport with them. I don’t communicate with Jane unless I have to and it’s in writing.

What should I do? I’m not quitting and I’m not taking a demotion. Should I meet with Jane and HR to discuss this and set expectations? That feels like I’m betraying my child and my family, but professionally I know it’s an option. Do I ignore it and hope she’s so uncomfortable she quits? Should I ask HR about offering her a transfer? At a certain point in the last year, she behaved just about as badly as her child did, and the judge considered including her in the restraining order, but was instead issued a warning on the record.I checked and the two of us working together isn’t a violation of the restraining order, but it does open up the possibility.

I’m just so stunned I don’t know what to do. We don’t speak or interact unless we have to and some team members and a few of my colleagues in management have noticed but not said much about it. I’m at such a loss, I have no idea how to handle this.

First, what an awful situation. I’m so sorry your child and your family went through that, and I’m glad everyone is starting to heal from it.

It must be horrible to have the situation rear back up in your life in this unexpected way, in a place where you never expected to encounter it.

But you’ve got to talk to HR about it. Because you’re Jane’s manager, it’s a significant conflict of interest, and it would be a big deal if they find out about it at some point and you never disclosed it. And the chances of them finding out are pretty high, since if Jane starts to feel like you’re penalizing her professionally, it would make sense for her to tell HR the personal history to try to protect herself. But even if she doesn’t, it sounds like people are already noticing that you’re freezing her out — and without knowing the back story, that’s going to reflect badly on you as a manager. (For that matter, with knowing the back story, it’s going to reflect badly on you as a manager, because you really can’t do that. From the company’s standpoint, part of the job you’ve been hired to do is to be a fair and effective manager to everyone you supervise, regardless of how you feel about them personally and even if you dislike them for deeply justified reasons.)

I don’t know where that conversation will lead. If it’s possible for them to move Jane to a different position under a different manager, that would be the easiest and most obvious solution — and if there’s a way for them to do that, that’s the most likely outcome. If that’s not possible, there might be other workarounds to limit the impact of the personal history on your team’s work. It’s unlikely that you’ll be pushed to quit or to take a demotion, but you might be told that you need to find a way to manage her the same way you’d manage any other employee (which undoubtedly would be tough, but professionally you really would be obligated to do that if you’re in a position of professional power over her). Frankly, if I were in Jane’s shoes, I’d be actively looking for another job — since even if your company insists that you manage her fairly, I’d assume you were never going to be my champion (and understandably so) and that it would affect me professionally regardless — so she might leave on her own sooner rather than later. But you can’t count on that meanwhile; you’ve got to disclose the situation to your company.

I’m sorry this happened to your family.

{ 577 comments… read them below }

  1. Sara*

    I am so sorry for you OP, that is an extremely difficult situation. But you can’t ignore it – you definitely need to loop in HR to help you work through this. Hopefully Jane will leave on her own, but while you know how terrible her son is, you don’t know her financial position so she may not be able to. Hopefully there’s a way to transfer her to another team or manager, good luck.

    1. Smithy*

      While the situation between the OP/Jane and their families is complicated and unfortunate enough to warrant involvement by HR – I think it’s also worth stressing that this level of formality and frostiness has so much risk of eventually being noticed by other direct reports.

      And as all of these new direct reports evaluate the OP as a supervisor, knowing that there’s one direct report the OP “just doesn’t seem to like” – puts the OP in just one more unfair situation. If there’s anything HR is willing/able to do in terms of transferring Jane, this not only helps the OP not have to manager her, but also in regards to building their overall relationship and reputation with their other direct reports.

      Being seen as a manager who arbitrarily dislikes some direct reports does get noticed over time.

      1. Dr. Hyphem*

        This is the crux of the issue for me–even if OP could manage Jane professionally, albeit not warmly, and the two of them were to agree “we’re going to make this work, we’ll be professional but not friendly,” the optics for everyone who sees the two of them is going to harm OP’s reputation.

        1. Lilith*

          Supporting these comments – I have had a manager who had a strange and frosty relationship with another of her direct reports, and even as one of ‘the favoured’ it was noticed and commented on by the team and wider.

          1. rebelwithmouseyhair*

            Yeah, if you don’t know why there’s frostiness, you’ll be worried thinking it might be your turn next.

        2. Elizabeth West*

          Well, she could say the legal edicts clouded the communication issue, since Jane did get a warning that’s on the record and just this side of a restraining order.

          But I’d err on the side of talking to HR ASAP before Jane does. Because she will.

      2. I GOTS TO KNOW!*

        I feel like OP needs to acknowledge it in her convo with HR, maybe?

        “I need to discuss a conflict of interest in having Jane on my team. I’m sorry I didn’t come to you immediately with this, but—and you’ll see why shortly—I felt I needed to consult with my lawyer and get some additional business advice before coming to you. Here is how I have maintained a professional relationship with Jane (XYZ) in the interim without allowing our personal history to affect performance. However, there is a chance other team members have noticed there is a difference in interaction. It was not my intent and I am confident I can overcome that with the team moving forward.

        The conflict of interest I need to discuss is….”

        The comment from a thread farther down in the comments about saying that moving Jane to ensure Jane gets the best chance at success is a good one to show that it isn’t just about OP’s success, but I think it needs to be framed in a way that doesn’t make it seem like the OP would be a hinderance to that, just that Jane likely isn’t going to grow as well as she could because of her own hesitance around the situation. OP can outline concerns “Because of this pre-existing relationship, I am worried I won’t be able to effectively manage her should a situation arise where she needs correction or discipline—what if she writes off valid criticism or feedback as retaliation?” Jane needs a manager that she trusts is unbiased and OP needs direct reports that she isn’t afraid will claim bias in tough conversations.

        Jane being on a different team is the best way forward for the company without letting anyone go.

        1. PinaColada*

          I disagree with this part:

          “However, there is a chance other team members have noticed there is a difference in interaction. It was not my intent and I am confident I can overcome that with the team moving forward.”

          … I think she should keep it to the legal facts as others have said, and avoid pointing the finger at herself. I think there’s too many ways it could backfire to make it about her, rather than the untenable situation.

  2. CityMouse*

    You absolutely need to go to HR. You cannot manage someone when you have a restraining order against her child. That’s a legal nightmare. There is absolutely no situation where this could play out well. It’s bad for work, their kid’s lawyer should be telling them it’s a bad idea too because she shouldn’tbe having any contact with you either. Just absolutely 100% no.

    1. Melissa*

      Oh my gosh, on my first read, I didn’t notice the restraining order! Yes, there’s no way any company wants you attempting to manage someone that you have this type of history with.

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        And the mother, who is now OP’s employee, was almost included in it too because of how she was acting! What an awful situation all around.

      2. NerdyKris*

        And she was almost included in the restraining order. This is just a legal nightmare.

        1. CityMouse*

          Even with her not included one condition of restraining orders generally is no contacts through third parties. So “Timmy says he’s very sorry” is arguably a violation of the restraining order. It’s just not good.

          1. AnotherOne*

            I also think the RO means that even if Jane gets moved to another manager, there needs to be an acknowledgement that there is this RO against Jane’s child and what that means for any office events where people might bring their children.

        2. MCMonkeyBean*

          I’m curious how this would play out if she *had* been added to the restraining order

    2. Toads, Beetles, Bats*

      If there’s a silver lining to taking out a restraining order on someone, it’s how quickly (and non-emotionally) you can get the point across to HR. “I need to make you aware that I/my family has a restraining order against X’s child. I can provide a copy if necessary; obviously there’s a lengthy backstory here. Given the RO and history, what steps do we need to take here?”

      1. Colonel Gateway*

        Yes, excellent response. As emotionally charged as the situation is to your personal life (and totally understandably!), OP, you want to leave your explanation to your employer/HR as factual and void of emotion as possible. This is great script to start with.

      2. Anne of Green Gables*

        Toads’ script is great, and I would add an element from CeeBee’s comment below as well. “I need to make you aware that I/my family has a restraining order against Jane’s child. The judge included a warning to Jane in their ruling. I can provide a copy to you. Given the restraining order and history between me & Jane, I have obvious concerns about managing Jane. What steps do we need to take here?”

        1. Sarah M*

          Yes, ABSOLUTELY include the information re: the near restraining order vs Jane, because that is something HR needs to know. Gather your documents up and go ASAP, OP!

          1. This_Is_Todays_Name*

            If the warning to the Mother is in the court records, by all means it HAS to be included IMHO, but in my reading, I got the impression that the warning to the Mother of Bull (MOB) was verbal, as in, “MOB you are very close to also being included in this owner; I advise you to get your feces in formation.” But I could be wrong. If it is documented, I’d 100% mention it. If it was just verbal…meh…there’s no paper trail of THAT part of it, I’d stick with the “RO against MOB’s child” and leave out the “and almost MOB” herself, because of no “proof/documentation” of THAT piece and I’d want to not bring up anything I couldn’t back up. But that’s just my opinion.

            1. Sarah M*

              My reading of it is that it was a verbal warning from the Judge to Jane but it was made on the record. So I do think OP should include it – along with as much documentation of the specific behavior that earned Jane the warning as OP can provide. I agree totally that a verbal warning sans paper trail would be *much* less helpful to OP, but fortunately it looks like OP has the receipts.

        2. Observer*

          I think this is perfect. Much better than including all the rest of the information. You may need to share that at some point, but starting with these “bare” legal facts really focuses the conversation where it needs to be with as little exposure to your family as possible. And it keeps people getting into the “drama” of it all, which can be a major and very painful distraction.

      3. Spero*

        I would specifically say ‘my child was the victim of an assault (or whatever other legal charges Timmy is now facing) by Jane’s child and there are ongoing legal proceedings related to the case as well as an active restraining order against Jane’s child.’ If you only say restraining order, it appears to be in past – but from the ‘finally facing other legal consequences’ statement by the OP it is very much still an ongoing issue. Is OP going to be giving a victim impact statement at sentencing for Jane’s child and then expected to lead a staff meeting with Jane present the next day? Absolutely not.

        1. Phryne*

          I personally would not start out with sharing my child’s private matters with my employer.
          A statement that there is a restraining order still in effect on a member of Jane’s family, possibly with the information that Jane was on the brink of being included by it, is enough information to convey to HR that LW is the wronged party in this and that there are clear legal issues.

        2. Fishsticks*

          My reading of “finally facing other legal consequences” made me think that Jane’s child has been victimizing perhaps more than just OP’s child and might be facing legal consequences for whatever other illegal or harmful things they’ve been doing, not necessarily that those consequences are related to OP’s child specifically.

          God, how awful this whole situation is.

          OP, as a formerly bullied child who had some significant and serious ideation, let your child know we are so so so glad they are still with us, and I want to reassure them that it does get better, it WILL get better, and they can absolutely grind Jane’s kid’s face in the dirt just by living a beautiful life. I’m so glad they – and you, OP, and your whole family – are taking steps to heal and move forward.

        3. Treena*

          Restraining orders are only given in actively dangerous situations. They expire and need to be renewed so if someone has a current RO, it’s an currently dangerous situation for them.

        1. Cthulhu's Librarian*

          Because they a) didn’t know in time to have any input in the decision to bring Jane on, b) were worried the end result of saying something would be them being penalized, and c) are still processing a traumatic experience, which most of us do imperfectly.

          I’m not surprised, and I don’t know that I’d have thought to react any better than they did, personally.

          1. Elitist Semicolon*

            I mean, SERIOUS respect to the OP for not taking one look at Jane and blurting out something like “are you f’n kidding me?” or “HELL NO” or some such.

            1. NotRealAnonForThis*

              Not going to lie. Had a vaguely similar situation appear (ex’s wife showed up to an interview as a temp replacement for me while I was on maternity leave) and something along the lines of “oh holy fvck no” did come out of my mouth under my breath, but I also explained to my bosses WHY that was a distinctly bad idea (let’s hire someone who has directly hurt me before to cover my job for a couple of months, whatever could go wrong here?)

          2. Fishsticks*

            It sounds like OP had a freeze response, which is 100% a valid trauma response and something many of us are prone to during moments of intense stress or being reexposed to that stress!

            Frankly, I found OP admirable for how much they are trying to actively not mistreat or penalize Jane. I’m not sure I would be that noble, or that I wouldn’t have just said, “You don’t get to hurt me here too,” right away, publicly, and made everything way messier.

        2. Pdxer*

          I can. I’m sure this still feels like a horrible nightmare to her. There’s probably a very significant sense of shock right now. I’m glad she’s thinking it through instead of immediately reacting. Reaching out to Allison was a good move, because when faced like a situation like this, it’s very easy to just spin your wheels, get overwhelmed, and potentially respond very badly. HR is absolutely the place to go, OP, and I hope all of this resolves as well as it possibly can.

        3. A Poster Has No Name*

          If it were me, it’d because I was too stunned to know what to do at first, then not sure if I want to bring this drama into the workplace, not sure how people would view me once it all gets out (which it likely will) and then finally not wanting to dredge up all the f’ing trauma AGAIN when it seemed like things were finally settled and better.

          Can’t blame the LW for not being sure what to do and reaching out for advice. Or just hoping Jane quits and it all goes away.

          1. WellRed*

            To me it’s no different than if this was an abusive partner. Speak up immediately. But I can understand the shock and freezing in place.

          2. Ex-prof*

            That’s what I was thinking. I’d freeze up emotionally, and go through the motions when I had to speak to the woman at all.

            (In fact, I have a neighbor who’s bullying me right now– not to to the extent of OP’s situation, but definitely to the extent that I’m planning to move– and that’s just what I do.)

        4. Fish out of Water*

          I’m guessing also because this all started at school, and schools are notoriously bad at dealing with bullying and very often end up punishing the victim. In this case OP’s family literally had to sell their house and move to get their child away from the situation. This should not have been the case, but it frequently is in situations like this. It could make OP understandably worried that bringing HR in would once again result in her family being punished, which is shown by her worry that *she* would be demoted if she brought it up. It sounds crazy but sadly it’s shockingly common that bureaucracies refuse to deal with the bully, instead further victimizing the victim.

        5. CLC*

          I mean I would be so shocked I wouldn’t know how to react and I’d be afraid of shock and emotions clouding my judgement,

        6. This_Is_Todays_Name*

          I can imagine a few reasons:
          1) They wanted to consult with representation of whether or not this violates the RO and they have standing to have her removed under that.
          2) Shock.
          3) Not wanting to be perceived immediately upon starting as “a problem child” or someone who “can’t get along with others.” Even though it’s NOWHERE near her fault, people worry about what others, especially those in authority, will think of us if we’re involved with drama.
          4) “Maybe if we keep it professional, I can make this work” aka “magical thinking.”

    3. Momma Bear*

      Right. This is well beyond “the kids didn’t get along.” These families have been in court together. OP needs to go to HR like yesterday.

    4. Jessica*

      Yeah, I feel like the one point I disagree with Alison on is this:

      “For that matter, with knowing the back story, it’s going to reflect badly on you as a manager, because you really can’t do that. From the company’s standpoint, part of the job you’ve been hired to do is to be a fair and effective manager to everyone you supervise, regardless of how you feel about them personally and even if you dislike them for deeply justified reasons.”

      This isn’t really a “you dislike her and are being petty about it and that’s a red flag for how you’d treat any other employee you took a dislike to” situation. This is a “you’re a mother who almost lost her child due to the deliberate cruelty of this woman and her son, had to flee your home to the other side of the continent, and still have some pretty intense trauma about it” situation in which it’s hardly unsurprising that you can’t bring yourself to communicate with her except in writing.

      This is so far outside the realms of normal management, and such an extreme situation, that most people aren’t going to view your behavior toward her as indicative of your management skills.

      I think anyone can understand and empathize with that.

      In this isolated situation (as opposed to your history with Jane), there are no villains: you didn’t know Jane had been hired, Jane didn’t know she’d be working with you, and the company didn’t know your history. No one created this situation with any malice or bad intent.

      But it’s still true that your employer has put you in a completely untenable situation.

      I might talk to a lawyer first to see if you can get a judge to revisit not including Jane in the restraining order. I’m a little unclear on the chronology here, because you mention that you moved to the other side of the country–presumably to get away from the Jane/Timmy situation?–but now it sounds like Jane is in geographical proximity to you? Did she and her family move to where you relocated? Was your move before or after you got a restraining order? Maybe, since your circumstances have changed, you could get her included?

      In any case, please go to HR. Take your documentation. It’s not on you to figure out how to navigate working with her: it’s on them to handle this situation without penalizing you.

      1. Jessica*

        Never mind, just had it pointed out in another thread that LW moved to the other side of the county, not the countRy.

        1. GrooveBat*

          Oh, thank you! I was so confused thinking it was “country.” I was like, “Did Jane and her family stalk OP to another coast?”

          1. Mister_L*

            Also misread it, I thought “Jane” had gained a reputation and tried to out-run it.

          2. Jolie*

            I read “country” too, and assumed a small country. In Belgium, for example, it would be possible for two people living in opposite ends of the country to go to the same workplace in the middle with a 1-2 hours commute by train each.

      2. Not Tom, Just Petty*

        I think the “reflect badly” could come about if OP doesn’t speak up about it. Part of being a manager is having the hard conversations, even when they are about yourself. The longer OP stays quiet, the more it will look like hiding something.
        I understand that the opposite is true. OP is trying to keep personal and professional life separate. But this is not the situation for that.

        1. Momma Bear*

          I agree. I think without knowing what’s going on people just think OP is acting weird toward Jane and vice versa. That is the part that will reflect badly because there’s no context.

          1. Jessica*

            Right, but in the section of Alison’s reply I quoted above, she was specifically talking about when people *did* know the backstory, and saying that it would still reflect badly on the LW even when people knew about what Jane and her son had done.

              1. Ismonie*

                Sometimes judges add additional restrained parties to the order if they behave inappropriately. So she may not have requested it.

            1. Bunny Lake Is Found*

              I think what Alison means is that, lets say Jane and LW used to date the same person, and that comes out later. It doesn’t make LW look bad for not saying something earlier, even if the personal relationship becomes and issue, because most people would find it reasonable for LW to believe that she could treat Jane just like any other report.

              When the cards are shown here, it seems beyond ridiculous for LW to believe she could manage Jane. At best, it makes it seem like LW is oblivious to her own attempts to avoid Jane and how it would be perceived by others, but at worst, some might think LW deliberately concealed this rather troubling past to allow her to “punish” Jane (despite LW working very hard to NOT do this).

      3. Girl Alex PR*

        She said county, not country. So a little more of a reasonable undertaking in terms of a move.

      4. Baeolophus bicolor*

        Hey, I think you may have misread OP’s letter – OP says they moved to the other side of the county, not the other side of the continent. The timeline makes a little more sense that way. :)

      5. yala*

        I’m inclined to agree (county/country movie aside).

        I guess in a Cold Logic way it could reflect badly on her, but I honestly don’t think any employer could reasonably expect her to manage her in the same way as other reports.

        1. Zweisatz*

          I don’t agree. For the simple reason that likely only a limited number of people at OP’s company will get to know the full story. To everybody else, it will look out of step.

      6. EtTuBananas*

        I agree with your critique, Jessica. If I were a third party and knew the basic outline of the situation (OP’s family has a restraining order out on Jane’s child due to serious bullying, and Jane has a legal warning) I would think a straightforward (if frosty) attitude towards Jane demonstrates an enormous amount of restraint and professionalism. If OP goes to HR and lays out the facts plainly, I’d have even more respect for OP due to the lack of mudslinging.

        I also couldn’t imagine Jane herself staying in that situation. However, someone who mishandles their child’s bullying so badly they almost gets a restraining order taken out on themselves likely doesn’t have the same baseline of empathy or humility as the average AAM commenter.

      7. Lenora Rose*

        The issue is, OP presumably doesn’t want to explain the situation at all to all her direct reports. So they can’t know that this is a one-in-a-million situation, they can only see there’s one person, and a newish one, which OP is not treating the same.

        And in OP’s place, I’d probably rather not go over (and over and over) the situation with anyone I didn’t have to, especially direct reports. For OP’s own sake, it’s easier to go to HR and say Anne of Green Gables’ Script above*, get Jane ideally moved to another department, where she can have a more fair chance at the workplace and OP doesn’t have to be constantly reminded.

        *(That script was this one, which is a refinement of one by Toads, Beetles, Bats: “I need to make you aware that I/my family has a restraining order against Jane’s child. The judge included a warning to Jane in their ruling. I can provide a copy to you. Given the restraining order and history between me & Jane, I have obvious concerns about managing Jane. What steps do we need to take here?”)

    5. Jellyfish Catcher*

      Yeah, contact your lawyer right away, for his advice and support.
      Your 1st priority is taking care of your mental health, and you likely can remain with the company, and may want to, with their support. You sound grounded on the options – you can do this, at least long enough to make a sound decision.

      Your family life was damaged enough and this just totally sucks – but don’t let it expand into your career.
      Work with HR, get legal advice and definitely get some therapy to process this awful surprise.

      It may be that you want and get another job at some point. Many of us want and get a new job at some point, for all sorts of reasons.
      I am so sorry. You can do this.

      1. GrooveBat*

        It sounds like LW worked very hard to get this promotion, and I would hate to see them driven out of that position as a result of someone else’s bad behavior

        1. Dances with Flax*

          Not to mention that, given how Jane’s behaved towards the LW and their family in the past (to the point of being issued a formal, legal warning to stop harassing them!), Jane would very likely see the LW’s giving up her current job for a demotion as one more victory for Jane. Hey, she not only drove the LW’s family out of town, now she’s driving the LW herself (against whom Jane certainly bears a grudge for that restraining order and warning) out of her job and INTO a demotion! One more win for Jane!

          Ah, no. Just no!

  3. linus*

    looping in HR is definitely the move. this 100% sucks; i’m so sorry you’re having to deal with this.

  4. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

    You cannot manage someone when you have a restraining order against her child.

    My gut is telling me the restraining order is going to be what differentiates this situation from “normal.”

    1. Presea*

      I think it would have to be. Depending on the office culture, there could be times where people would normally be allowed/invited to bring in kids, like holiday parties where families/children are welcome. I don’t know if a scenario like that leading to the violation of a restraining order directly represents legal liability for the company or not, but if I were working in that HR, I would want to do everything in my power to prevent that situation from coming up in the first place.

      1. MsM*

        I don’t think I’d be comfortable having Timmy around other employees’ children given the background even if OP and family aren’t there. (Then again, with the other pending legal consequences, that may not be an issue.)

        1. Meep*

          +1

          I am a little surprised Jane didn’t disclose it in someway during interviewing, because the legal ramifications are going to take a lot of PTO. It wouldn’t be the truth, mind you, but if Timmy is half the bully I think he is, I am surprised she didn’t gripe about it.

          My parents have a neighbor whose mom literally followed in the car behind me while her daughter physically assaulted me and she still had the nerve to try and act like my mom was the monster raising little monsters anytime someone new moved into the neighborhood, even twenty years after the fact. (Within a few months, they see who she is.) Her son is in and out of jail, and it is everyone else’s fault. I cannot imagine if Jane almost got a personal restraining order against her, she thinks she did anything wrong either.

          1. FYI*

            I think very, very few people would use the phrase “restraining order” during a job interview, especially if it was applied to them.

            1. Meep*

              You might want to re-read what I said. I never said I expected her to use the words “restraining order”. ;)

              1. This_Is_Todays_Name*

                I, too was confused by what you WERE expecting Jane would have brought up then? “My son has some legal issues coming up so I’ll need time off for that?” Yeah that’ll go over like a lead balloon. What exactly did you want Jane to disclose?

            2. RVA Cat*

              I’m wondering if anything would come up in a background check? Somehow I doubt this was her first bully rodeo.

          2. Affine Transform*

            It doesn’t sound like Jane knew OP worked there:

            My first day meeting the team, she went pale when she saw me.

            From Jane’s POV, there was nothing to disclose.

            Although now, for all we know, Jane has already gone to HR and spun her version of the story.

            1. Meep*

              I would still expect Jane to tell her new employer she might have to miss work. Similar to if you already have a vacation planned. They need to be aware that you have prior commitments. They don’t have to know what they are.

                1. tamarack etc.*

                  Yeah, that’s a lot of speculation. And even *if* she herself thought ahead of time she might have to miss work, and even *if* she checked in during interviewing, it might not have raised any flags.

              1. Susannah*

                But – why would she have to miss work? There’s a restraining order in place; her son just has to abide by it. It doesn’t sound like there’s some ongoing court case that would demand her appearances in court.

                1. Addison DeWitt*

                  Yeah, I don’t understand why Jane would ever have brought up her son’s behavior in the interview process when she has no idea that anyone involved in it is at the company.

              2. Ace in the Hole*

                Why do you assume she didn’t say something? If she even has to miss work, which she may not.

                I’d expect if it was relevant at all, she’d have said something along the lines of “Important appointment I can’t reschedule” or “family commitments on these days,” not “I’ll need to miss work for court proceedings related to my son’s violent behavioral issues.”

              3. MCMonkeyBean*

                Aside from the fact that we have literally no idea if there is anything on the horizon that would require Jane to miss work, I don’t think anyone should ever say to a prospective employer “oh I just want to disclose that I might have to miss work sometimes.”

                If you are not disclosing something specific like a pre-planned vacation or requesting a medical accommodation there is really no good reason to mention it in advance.

            2. INFJedi*

              Although now, for all we know, Jane has already gone to HR and spun her version of the story.

              The only thing OP needs to do then is to show the restraining order (and the warning the Judge gave Jane). Any decent HR would consider that as significant evidence supporting OP’s side of the story.

            1. Meep*

              You might want to re-read what I said. I never said I expected her to use the words “restraining order”. ;)

              1. Margaret Cavendish*

                Sure, but why would Jane have disclosed any of this? It doesn’t sound like she knew OP works there, so there would be no reason to disclose an unrelated personal matter.

                And even if Jane did know OP was there, and knew OP would be her boss, it’s still not in her best interest to disclose. She may have chosen to quietly exclude herself from the process, or she may have chosen to see it through, but there’s no benefit to Jane in bringing it up.

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

                Why would she have to disclose or say she was missing work? You wouldn’t do that for various reasons.

              3. Anon this time*

                There would be no real reason to bring up anything related to it though. This doesn’t sound like something that she would have to miss like weeks of work for, so there isn’t any reason to bring it up at the interview. For something like that, I would think you handle it the same way you request any time off. Several years ago I started a new job while I was very involved in a case where I had to go to court and testify against someone. It would never have occurred to me to say anything about it at my interview, and even if I did I would have never given them the context. When I got to the point where I had to miss work to go to court, i just requested those days off and that was it.

              4. biobotb*

                No, you said you would expect her to disclose “it,” in response to a comment referring to “the background” — which includes a restraining. Saying “it” doesn’t narrow anything down or suggest you would expect her to leave out the restraining order. ;)

          3. Llama Identity Thief*

            From my understanding, the legal ramifications and necessary time has already been spent (the restraining order has already been filed), so I don’t think that the PTO problem is really a thing that exists here.

          4. metadata minion*

            Unless you know for sure you’ll need a specific amount of time off soon after hire, this is the sort of thing that I wouldn’t expect someone to disclose during the interview process. Plenty of people have Stuff(TM) going on that means they’ll need more PTO than average, and unless you need to negotiate a formal modified schedule, there’s no reason to give a prospective employer the chance to even subconsciously rule you out.

            1. Elsewise*

              I agree. My partner is chronically ill, and while this is obviously extremely different from Jane’s situation, there have been times when that’s meant I’ve had to take off more than usual time due to emergency room visits and the like. If I had a vacation planned or knew I needed to take X amount of PTO on a specific date, I’d mention it in an interview, but I’ve never once told an interviewer that I’d be using PTO in general, even if I was using more than an average employee. I’d be very surprised if an applicant said to me during an interview “by the way, my kid sucks so I need to take extra time off.”

          5. Observer*

            I cannot imagine if Jane almost got a personal restraining order against her, she thinks she did anything wrong either.

            Which is a good argument against telling anyone about this restraining order.

            Of course, she could be the type to tell about it with great indignation, but I think that most HR departments are not going to react well to something like that.

          6. BubbleTea*

            I think you’re projecting your own situation here. There’s no indication that Jane will have to take time off for any legal ramifications. Also no way to know whether Jane thinks she did anything wrong or not.

          7. The Shenanigans*

            She didn’t for the same reason an abusive ex doesn’t mention restraining orders when applying to places their ex-partners work. They are abusers because they want power and control, no matter the cost to others. I frankly wonder if this is truly a coincidence that Jane ended up at the same company as the OP. Stalking someone like that is textbook abuse.

            And really, this all sounds like the kid and the mom are abusive, and I’d use that word or the legal term for whatever the kid/mom did vs. bullying when talking to HR. Too many people think of bullying as kid stuff that doesn’t matter.

            I also agree with the advice to talk to a lawyer. Then OP could suggest a course of action because a lawyer says so rather than what the OP wishes. It’s a LOT harder for HR to argue with “My lawyer says that she should be moved to a different group and team due to the continuing legal charges against her son.” than “I’d prefer not to manage Jane.”.

            1. Bunny Lake Is Found*

              Eh, based on the timing of the hires, I don’t think we can really say Jane or LW had any reason to believe they would end up working for the same place, and even if they did have an inkling (like, it’s the biggest employer in the area), you’d have to work VERY hard to get a job as the direct report of someone who isn’t even hired yet. Jane may be a bully, but I don’t think that is why she ended up as LW’s report.

        2. Anon for this*

          Yeah. Being the survivor of a similar situation (wherein my parent worked part time at the same place as the parent of a boy who stalked me for four full years) I would definitely have reservations about little Timmy having access to any other kids while at company events / on company property.

    2. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      Exactly.
      This isn’t about a fence six inches over the property line.
      Jane’s child cannot attend a work picnic for families because he will be near OP’s kid.
      This is “my family member committed a crime against my employee” level letter.

    3. Coffee Break*

      I’m not a lawyer so HR need to be looped in immediately. If the parties to the restraining order are the two families then the OP needs to inform HR because this woman is in violation of the order simply by being in the vicinity of the OP and she needs to remove herself without delay. If this does not happen the restraining order can become void. If only Timmy and the family are the parties to the order, OP still needs to inform HR immediately and they agree a plan to deal with the conflict of interest. Whether or not OP manages her there is still a huge legal liability for the company simply because of the likelihood of Timmy coming into contact with OP if he needs to show up to company premises for any innocuous reason (like if he forgot his house key or something).

      1. This_Is_Todays_Name*

        You need to reread the post. The RO is only against the child. The mother got a (presumably verbal) warning from the judge that she was close to being issued one, as well, but was not. So no she is not in violation of the RO, but if she brought the little demon to a company picnic she would be.

  5. Juju*

    Please please please send in a follow-up. How incredibly difficult for OP. However, I think she should in the meantime 110% put everything in writing to the bully’s mother. You have to wonder what is going on at home to make a child act like this. You indicated the judge admonished her. Will that leak into her own workplace? Probably.

    1. President Porpoise*

      Yeah, my guess is that, given OP’s previous experience with Jane and Timmy, Timmy probably picked up at least some of the behavior from his mom, and you, as manager, will have to manage bad behavior from Jane in the not-to-distant future. The issue may end up resolved by Jane being fired for cause, and you will absolutely need to have impeccable records to support if you are the firer.

    2. BlackLodge*

      I’d be concerned that this could be seen as retaliatory or harassing based on a personal conflict, especially if it’s clear that Jane is the only target. It’s pretty natural to wonder what kind of family dynamic would lead to that level of bullying but I’m not sure those factors should come into play here. At least not based on the information shared by the OP.

      1. Margaret Cavendish*

        OP, I would definitely not say anything to Jane! Not until you’ve talked to HR and your lawyer. This whole situation is complicated enough already – no need to introduce another element by talking to her about it directly. Just keep doing what you’re doing for now, and get professional advice ASAP. Like, today ASAP, if not sooner.

        I’m so sorry you’re dealing with this.

        1. Kevin Sours*

          “Not until you’ve talked to HR and your lawyer.”

          Not necessarily in that order.

      2. Meep*

        I think only speaking to her via a paper trail is perfectly acceptable, but I agree. When OP has to discipline, it is going to look retaliatory.

        1. Kevin Sours*

          Keeping one employee at arms length while interacting normally with everybody else is a problem. It’s going to have the appearance of being retaliatory — because in practice it is regardless intent.

          That might be the only workable resolution but that’s *got* to be worked out and documented between HR, OP, and Jane rather than unilaterally implemented.

          1. MigraineMonth*

            Yeah, this is unfortunately going to reflect badly on OP unless she pulls in HR right now.

      3. Observer*

        I’d be concerned that this could be seen as retaliatory or harassing based on a personal conflict,

        Which is perfectly legal.

        Not that it’s a good idea, but it’s one of the few things HR doesn’t need to worry about.

        1. Kevin Sours*

          HR frequently has to worry about things that are entirely legal. This is one of them.

          1. Kevin Sours*

            To be clear, putting things in writing while addressing the situation with HR isn’t the end of the world but it’s not a good long term solution.

        2. MigraineMonth*

          I don’t think the issue is that the company would be liable due to OP’s illegal actions (since they aren’t illegal). The issue would be that OP’s reputation was damaged because she didn’t alert HR to the conflict-of-interest she has managing one of her direct reports.

        3. Joron Twiner*

          What?? This is exactly the kind of thing HR has to worry about. Bullying based on a protected class or not matters in the sense of US law, not whether HR can do something about it.

          1. Observer*

            Of course. But it’s not the case that HR needs to worry about *legal issues* from managing the situation as they see fit (unless they get into allowing racial slurs, docking of pay or other truly illegal behavior.)

            My point is that it is not useful to bring up the specter of legal problems when they don’t exist. Not that “not illegal” means that you therefore must take or avoid a particular course of action.

            1. Elizabeth West*

              Just knowing that there is a restraining order would bring up that potential, IMO. I’d bet HR will want to talk to the company lawyers as well, so OP would be wise to alert her own.

              OP, PLEASE come back and update us! I need to know that you and your kiddo are okay.

      4. Quill*

        Yeah. Is Jane going to be a problem? Maybe. Is that something OP should have to handle? Heck no. Go to HR, do not pass go, do not collect $200.

    3. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

      I was going to give Jane some grace, because sometimes despite doing your best as a parent, some children unfortunately have some significant mental health challenges that can’t be managed just by parenting.

      However since Jane’s behavior nearly got her added to the restraining order, that is not what is happening here.

      1. Missy*

        Sometimes there is a deeper reason for nasty behaviour sometimes they are just a bully because they enjoy it.

        Regardless it is so saddening to see victims of bullying having their suffering minimised by those who want to sympathise with the bully.

        As a victim of a ‘Timmy’ all can I add is that no matter what they have going on in your own live you have no right inflict suffering on others.

        Bullies never truly understand the lasting impact they have on their victims.

      2. Lily*

        “sometimes despite doing your best as a parent, some children unfortunately have some significant mental health challenges that can’t be managed just by parenting.”

        Thank you for saying this. I have such a child.

      3. Reality.Bites*

        Jane could be a wonderful person and entirely blameless for what happened, and the situation would still be untenable. You can’t be expected to manage an employee whose child has had a restraining order put on them over their treatment of your child. No company would knowingly allow it – and OP needs to tell their company about this ASAP.

    4. Observer*

      I think she should in the meantime 110% put everything in writing to the bully’s mother.

      Nope. I think that the less non-contact with Jane the better. In fact anything above 0 is more than necessary.

        1. Totally Minnie*

          Right. I didn’t get the impression that Juju was saying LW should send any non-work communication to Jane, just that when communication with Jane is necessary for work purposes, it’s smarter for that communication to be in writing.

    5. Jellyfish Catcher*

      OP should definitely NOT put anything in writing “to” Timmy’s mother, omg.
      Certainly nothing in writing to anybody without OP’s attorney signing off on it.
      Maybe you meant “about” Timmy’s mother, but the attorney rule of nothing in writing w/o her lawya’s blessing still stands.

      1. amoeba*

        Huh? She needs to communicate with her because she’d her line manager. The advice was about doing that in writing vs. personally. Not communicating at all is obviously not a solution at this point…

        1. Bunny Lake Is Found*

          Yes, not communicating is going to make this situation so much worse. Then Jane really is going to have a legit complaint that LW is singling her out and ignoring her and it is much better for LW if it never gets to that point.

      2. Lenora Rose*

        Until Jane is moved to another manager or otherwise not OP’s direct report, she has to communicate with her about work details (and only about work details).

      3. MCMonkeyBean*

        Timmy’s mother is OP’s employee so there will have to be occasional communications. I think they were suggesting to keep those communications in writing so that they have proof that the communications were professional if Jane tries to claim OP is retaliating against them.

    1. ferrina*

      Sending love to the OP! No advice, just deep sympathy and hopes that it gets smoothly resolved! I’m so sorry you and your family went through that.

        1. AGD*

          Same. I’m so glad that the OP’s kid is recovering and that there are legal consequences ahead for the bully, but it’s absolutely wrenching that something this malicious/dangerous happened at all. Thinking of you and your family, OP, and hoping for the best.

    2. MEH Squared*

      This. My heart goes out to you, OP. I don’t have any advice to add to what the commentariat has already said, but I hope that this is solved smoothly and in a way that is best for you and your family.

      1. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

        Yes, I have nothing helpful to say but this is such an awful situation, sending you all the good vibes

  6. CeeBee*

    I’d bring up the official warning from the judge in your dealing with HR so that they know she can be a problem and isn’t just the mom of the bully.

    1. Redaktorin*

      Yup! She’s not coming off well in her story. I suspect given half a chance, a person like this will tell HR a sob story about how things got out of hand with her kid, she was totally uninvolved, you’re vindictive, and now she’s scared. Pointing out from the jump that she acted out very badly and was given a warning protects you from this outcome.

      Talk to HR first. Tell them, in the least emotional terms you can manage, exactly what she did.

      1. MsM*

        I feel like the fact she seems to be keeping her head down means she knows there’s no sob story she can spin that OP can’t counter with the facts of the case if challenged. But OP should still go to HR, because this isn’t tenable.

        1. higheredadmin*

          Or, she’s keeping her head down to see how it is going to play out. She’s currently “winning” – she’s in her new job, OP is (understandably) freaking out, she’s generally being left alone. Jane won’t act out until OP makes a move. (Or, maybe, Jane has learned a life lesson from all of this and will quietly go – hope for the best but prepare for the worst.)

          1. Scylla*

            That’s the worst part of this- she’s proven herself to be extremely volatile in the past, so now it’s going to be impossible to predict how she’ll handle things now. Will she go quietly and be as relieved to get away from you as you are from her? Or is she scheming and plotting how to spin this to make herself look innocent and you look like a monster?
            The only way to resolve this is to go to HR, asap, before you find out the hard way.

        2. Redaktorin*

          We don’t actually know she’s keeping her head down or that keeping her head down is her long-term plan. We know that she *appears to the OP* to be keeping her head down *so far*.

          I would be willing to bet good money that she’ll do something awful soon-ish, or already has and the OP just doesn’t know.

        3. Pennyworth*

          If I was Jane I wouldn’t want to be managed by OP any more than OP wants to manage her. I hope there is an update saying HR was able to transfer Jane away from OP.

      2. Susannah*

        Agree – but I also don’t think the accusations of LW being vindictive would hold water with anyone, even if “Jane” was not as bad (or almost as bad) as “Timmy.” OP is managing someone who son is legally banned from getting near OP’s family. That on its own is just such a conflict that OP can’t manage Jane – even if Jane were a struggling, well-meaning parent overwhelmed by having to raise a bad seed.

      3. Velawciraptor*

        And to avoid games of he said/she said about what the Court said in hearings, I’d ask your lawyer if they can get copies of the recordings of the relevant hearings in addition to providing a copy of the RO if HR wants it.

    2. Curious*

      To lock that down, if the warning was “on the record,” you should have (or get), and be able to share with HR a copy of that record. this may involve paying for a transcript of the hearing — which may cost up to a couple of $100, but would seem worth it in this situation. please talk to your lawyer.

      1. Joron Twiner*

        I would not advise OP to share a copy of the hearing transcript with HR, that seems overkill.

    3. Delta Delta*

      In many places you can order an audio recording of hearings (waaaaay cheaper than a transcript!). OP might want to get that if she can in case there are any questions about what happened in the hearing, etc. That is, of course, as long as the hearing wasn’t confidential, and OP won’t be violating any orders or statutes by sharing that information.

  7. President Porpoise*

    Oh geez. What an awful situation for everyone.

    While Alison is absolutely right that you should manage Jane fairly and involve HR, if there’s ever a moment where you have to choose between doing right by Jane or doing right by your child, your child wins and any reasonable person understands that.

    1. Justme, The OG*

      She should definitely not ever do this. Even though I would want to if it were me, it’s never a good idea.

    2. TraceMark*

      Do not follow this advice. Be scrupulously aboveboard and fair. You are clearly in the right here – HR will agree when you bring in the restraining order. I’m sorry this is happening to you.

      1. 2nd Horrified Lurker*

        No no no! That’s how you turn it from a bad situation with evidence in your favor, to potentially bring on the other side of a lawsuit/job loss etc.

    3. Affine Transform*

      “But also, make her life a subtle nightmare until she quits.”

      Don’t do this. OP needs to be above reproach while dealing with this.

    4. Rachel from Hendu*

      Oh dear god don’t follow this advice. Go to HR right away and explain the situation, but any hint of retaliation, even “subtle” retaliation, will hurt you far more than it will hurt Jane.

      1. MigraineMonth*

        Exactly. OP now has the power in this situation and misusing that power is both ethically dubious and a career-killer. Not to mention, it is highly likely that Jane is planning to leave either the department or the company as soon as she can.

    5. Alice Quinn*

      Absolutely do not do this! This is a terrible situation and I’m so sorry you are having to deal with it, but taking this route will only open you up to huge issues, as satisfying as it might feel in the short term.

    6. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      … No? That’d be a terrible way to start in one’s new management role.

      We had a letter here from an LW who was intentionally managing their one employee out (iirc she said “I call that unmanaging”) and it ended in LW and LW’s entire team being fired.

      1. Cataclysm*

        Not only is this a bad idea in terms of being a good manager (really not how you’d want to start off a life-changingly paid job!), but I think it’d be a terrible idea in terms of personal effect. Making her work life about this awful part of their history does not seem like the way to heal from it. And on a practical level, I wouldn’t put it past Jane to try to retaliate herself in some way.

        Revenge fantasies might be fun sometimes, but they are for exactly that, fantasy. It seems to me that the best resolution for the OP would be for Jane to be out of their life.

    7. Peanut Hamper*

      I have seen some bad advice on this site, but this is potentially the worst advice I have ever seen. It could boomerang back on the LW in some horrible way.

      My god, what kind of person gives this advice to somebody who has survived such a horrible situation? (Someone who likes drama, I suppose. Nevermind.)

      1. RunShaker*

        WTH @revengeissweet. makes me wonder if you’re a random troll trying to cause discord.

      2. Llama Identity Thief*

        Seconding “worst advice I’ve ever read on this site” with as much emphasis I can muster. Beyond the obvious “this would show terrible personal judgment & managerial skills and would set her career back by a country mile if it ever got caught” AND “this would be stooping to her level and be inherently immoral,” there’s the added layer of “LW and her family would be happiest not hearing from Timmy/Jane again in her life, and doing something like this would just increase how much these people weigh on LW’s mind.”

        It is impressive to write a piece of advice this bad on every possible level.

      3. Trout 'Waver*

        The true worst advice on this site is the stuff other commenters back up and cheerlead, despite being bad advice.

      4. Greg*

        Right. “The best revenge is living well,” with the MAJOR caveat to keep you and your family safe in this particular circumstance.

        1. Realism*

          There are plenty of times when revenge is justified, because it has deterrence value. I am not saying this is one of those times, because OP’s workplace will sympathize with Jane.

    8. Don’t put metal in the science oven*

      I disagree with retaliation even in subtle form. OP should hold herself above reproach. Make sure Jane is the craziest person in the room. Document everything in case Jane tries to cry to HR.

    9. IHaveKittens*

      Absolutely do NOT follow this advice. What a horrible thing to say! You have to be completely above board with your dealings with this woman – you do not want to give anyone a chance to say that you treated her unfairly.

      1. Nia*

        Why? Why does it matter if Jane says she was treated unfairly. All the OP needs to do is tell people that Jane’s child almost killed her own. Even if they did before no one will care after that.

        1. MigraineMonth*

          OP was just given a significant increase in power. Immediately misusing that power is an excellent way to lose it (and her job).

          It is extremely likely that HR will intervene the moment they learn about the situation; OP needs them to intervene on her behalf and make sure Jane goes far away from her, not to protect Jane from her intentional abuses of power.

          1. Llama Identity Thief*

            Yeah, it doesn’t matter how “justified” it may be, it’s still a flagrant abuse of power. In addition, the actual facts of the situation are so open and shut that dealing with this as calmly as possible, in the world of facts, remove any hair’s percentage of chances where weird people take Jane’s side on the issue. Finally, and I’d argue most importantly, there is no way focusing on revenge would be in any way helpful towards LW’s process of healing.

        2. HonorBox*

          Ummm… because if Jane is smart and can provide actual documentation of being treated unfairly, it doesn’t matter what her son did. OP would be at fault.

          There’s absolutely no reason to retaliate. OP has the higher ground and should stay there.

          1. Nia*

            At fault of what? The OP doesn’t indicate that she’s in a country with real employment protections. You can fire people for anything here so long as it wasn’t because they were a protected class. And frankly even if Jane belongs to one it’s going to pretty hard to prove she was fired for that and not the fact that her child almost murdered OPs.

            1. Llama Identity Thief*

              You’re right that the OP doesn’t indicate that they’re in any sort of country with real employment protections. So there’s no reason to go down a path that leads to the people above them going “yeah your motivations may be extremely justifiable, but we have a policy in place for situations like this that you didn’t follow, and now we’re questioning whether your promotion to manager was correct.”

              If we could guarantee everyone above OP is reasonable, then I’d be tempted to agree. If this was OP’s company to run, I’d definitely agree. But it’s not, and the last thing OP needs is for a quick decision, no matter how justifiable, to open up fringe scenarios where this ends up harming them and their family.

            2. HonorBox*

              Yes, you can fire people for most anything, or for nothing. My point was that if OP is treating Jane differently than other reports or unfairly in general, there is fault. Fault for being a poor manager. Fault for not reporting this fairly significant situation to the proper channels. Regardless of class, if there’s clear difference being shown between Jane and other reports by the manager, there’s a problem

            3. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

              The company is not accountable to the government for firing people or even treating them badly (specific exceptions excluded). OP, however, IS accountable to the company for firing people AND for how she treats them.

            4. Dona Florinda*

              Still, it’s the sort of thing that HR could (and most likely would) intervene and, worst case scenario, not only they fire OP, but provide a bad reference as well.
              Just because OP can doesn’t mean she should.

              Wasn’t there a letter about a manager that falsified a warning and ended up fired after the employee talked about it in the exit interview?

            5. Kella*

              Firing Jane for *personal* reasons specific to the OP would be a terrible abuse of power and she would very likely be fired if anyone found out this was what influenced her decision. The fact that Jane has done concrete, harmful things to OP is entirely irrelevant to the fact that firing her without cause would be unethical.

        3. Hlao-roo*

          Why does it matter if Jane says she was treated unfairly.

          Because a manager should treat employees fairly, and if they cannot because of extenuating circumstances (like in this case), they should work out a situation with HR and upper management. If instead a manager starts to “make [Jane’s] life a subtle nightmare until she quits” (per Revenge is sweet’s advice), it shows that the manager is willing to abuse their authority and calls their fitness to be a manager into question. It is in the OP’s best interests to treat Jane as fairly as possible while working through the proper channels (HR, upper management) to resolve the situation.

        4. Irish Teacher*

          I wouldn’t guarantee that. They might well assume the parents had some kind of drama going on between them and the kids were reflecting that and that, while it obviously didn’t justify Timmy’s behaviour, it’s not entirely surprising if both the mothers are bullying each other; sure what else would the kids learn?

          Most people aren’t going to know the exact order of events and “one child bullied another, one parent joined in, other parent bullied that parent” could sound like two dysfunctional families causing drama and the whole thing being seen as a “feud” rather than one family victimising the other. I will add that this is even more likely if the families belong to any minority group.

          Especially in the workplace. There is a big difference between “I cannot manage X because of how she and her child treated mine” and a manager bullying an employee and trying to force them out, then explaining it with “her child nearly killed mine.” I can easily imagine a workplace categorising the latter as “two dramatic families feuding and drawing our workplace into it,” whereas if the LW behaves reasonable and just explains the situation, I can’t imagine any reasonable person being anything other than horrified on her behalf.

        5. NerdyKris*

          Because OP is a manager, and they hold all the power already. They need to show that they won’t abuse that power. A brand new manager that harasses a direct report is not someone that is a good manager.

        6. popko*

          Yes, a good HR team and upper management board absolutely would care that one of their managers made their workplace into a battlefield to play out a personal drama instead of doing the professional thing and going to HR, because it would show terrible judgement on that manager’s part. Yes, even if the target of that behavior was a massive jerk. “Playing out a personal vendetta” is not an appropriate use of work time or a leadership role, no matter how valid the LW’s feelings toward this woman are.

          Jane wouldn’t even have to “prove” that the LW was treating her unfairly– simply not going to HR about it would be a serious reason to question the LW’s judgement, because that is the only professional move to make here. Managers have a professional obligation to inform HR if they have a staff member they can’t manage effectively for any reason, including “this person caused significant harm to my family.” (Especially “this person caused significant harm to my family,” even??)

          Even if you don’t care that you’re giving bad advice that would result in a bad outcome for Jane, please reflect on that you’re wholeheartedly giving bad advice that would result in a bad outcome for the LW, who had already suffered enough.

          1. Observer*

            Even if you don’t care that you’re giving bad advice that would result in a bad outcome for Jane, please reflect on that you’re wholeheartedly giving bad advice that would result in a bad outcome for the LW, who had already suffered enough.

            Yes, that’s really the worst thing here. It could to a lot of damage to the OP.

            1. Bunny Lake Is Found*

              This. The goal here is to help LW get out of this situation with the least trauma possible and ideally with most of her company being blissfully unaware that she and Jane have any history. Even if somehow revenge didn’t lead to LW losing her job or her management position, the story of how LW bullied Jane after Timmy bullied LW’s son will be spread like wildfire and will fuse to LW’s reputation. LW and their family have been through enough.

        7. Observer*

          Why does it matter if Jane says she was treated unfairly. All the OP needs to do is tell people that Jane’s child almost killed her own. Even if they did before no one will care after that.

          It’s not that Jane “says”, it’s that OP actually DOES. And you are flatly wrong that “no one will care”. People will, even people who sympathize.

    10. LinkedIn Ghost*

      Horrible advice! That behavior would hurt OP way more than Jane by making OP look like a bully and destroying her credibility. So sorry you’re going through this OP. What a nightmare of a situation. As everyone is saying go to HR with the story laid out in a factual and logical progression. Bring any relevant court/police documents to back up your points. All the best to you and hope your son is able to heal.

    11. L-squared*

      Yeah, that is NOT the way to go. Because despite their personal relationships, this woman took a job and deserves to be treated fairly.

    12. NerdyKris*

      “But also, make her life a subtle nightmare until she quits.”

      That is absolutely awful advice. Why would you ever suggest that? Actively harassing an employee into quitting would make OP look like (and be) a terrible manager who should not be in that position.

    13. Kate*

      LW – absolutely do not follow the advice from “Revenge is sweet,” it would lead to grounds for disciplining you and possibly leading to your termination.

      Allison – please weigh in here :(

      1. Emily*

        As a heads up, posting a comment asking Alison to weigh in is not the most effective approach because Alison is not able to read every single comment. Alison has instructions for how to report a comment that violates the commenting rules, and that is by replying to the comment with a link because comments with links automatically go to moderation, and Alison will see it. I do see that Alison removed the comment from “Revenge is sweet.”

        1. Three Pandemic Kids*

          Just wanted to thank you for sharing this info! I was looking for some way of reporting “Revenge is sweet’s” original comment and didn’t see one (but admittedly I didn’t go into the commenting rules to see if there was a method specified there).

        2. TRH*

          I’m not sure I understand this process, on reporting? Would you please clarify? I have some dyslexia and can’t visualize as stated. If you have time, I would appreciate it!

          1. Victoria*

            If I included a link in this reply to you, TRH, then the comment wouldn’t appear immediately. It would go into a queue to be manually moderated by Alison. When she looks at my link to release it from moderation, she would also see if I’d said something like “Alison, the comment above is problematic”. Then Alison can check the comment being replied to and delete it if necessary. Does that make sense?

          2. Weaponized Pumpkin*

            There is no actual report function, they’re describing a workaround. Comments with links are not automatically posted, they go into moderation and Allison sees everything that goes into moderation. So this workaround works as in informal report function.

            How to: Start with the comment you want to flag. Click “reply” underneath it, like you did to create your comment above. In the comment field, type (or copy) in a web link — any link, to anything — plus a note to Alison asking her to review. The moderation filter will catch your comment, and that alerts her there’s something she should look at.

          3. Insert Clever Name Here*

            Alison doesn’t review every comment before it is posted, so saying “Alison, this comment is harmful” in a reply won’t actually trigger any action.

            The comments that do get reviewed before being posted are ones that have a link in them — Alison has said before that if you want to bring a comment to her attention you reply to the problem comment and put a link (any link) in your comment.

            For example, if my comment was harmful or otherwise against the site’s commenting rules and you wanted Alison to see it you could reply to this comment and say something like:

            “www dot google dot com Alison look at the top comment”

            You’d type the web address normally though; I had to type it that way to keep my comment from going through moderation.

          4. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

            Click the “reply” button as usual, then write something like “the above post is spam” or “troll alert” followed by an html link to any site you feel like, e.g. google or Weather Underground. The link sends your comment to moderation, where Alison will read it and can deal with the spam, trolling, or other problematic content.

          5. Hlao-roo*

            Copied this out of the commenting rules:

            How do I flag a comment for you to review?

            If you include a link in your comment, it’ll go to moderation so I’ll see it. So for example:

            Alison, can you take a look at this comment? [url to any website]

            (Yes, this is a weird workaround. The higher-tech solutions don’t work well.)

    14. Cataclysm*

      Not only is this a bad idea in terms of being a good manager (really not how you’d want to start off a life-changingly paid job!), but I think it’d be a terrible idea in terms of personal effect. Making her work life about this awful part of their history does not seem like the way to heal from it. And on a practical level, I wouldn’t put it past Jane to try to retaliate herself in some way.

      Revenge fantasies might be fun sometimes, but they are for exactly that, fantasy. It seems to me that the best resolution for the OP would be for Jane to be out of their life.

      1. Cataclysm*

        Wow, I am really not on my game today. Meant to use gender neutral pronouns for OP throughout, the first “her” is meant to be OP

      2. Scylla*

        Exactly. What you do is go to a rage room, go axe throwing, scream in your car, write furious letters and then delete them, whatever you need to do to get your fury at the situation out- and then you show up at work the absolute MODEL of professionalism.

    15. Csethiro Ceredin*

      I understand the impulse, but don’t do this! You’d cede the high ground and you’d put your job at risk.

    16. Veryanon*

      No, OP should *not* make her life a subtle nightmare. OP should loop in HR immediately and play everything strictly by the book until TPTB make a decision on Jane.

    17. Jackalope*

      In addition to all of the comments from everyone else explaining why this is a bad idea, making it so that Jane can never work again is counterproductive in the extreme. We know what she’s like in a personal situation, but no idea about her work personality or work ethic. No matter how awful she may be, she and her family still need to eat, and if she’s able to behave appropriately in a work setting then she shouldn’t be “shadow-banned” from all employment forever.

    18. Hiring Mgr*

      Hopefully you’re being sarcastic because this is terrible advice that would easily backfire on the LW

    19. umami*

      This is … not good advice. Going to HR and sharing the facts is the best move, and the only piece of this advice that should be followed. Remaining professional and neutral is OP’s other best move.

    20. Fluffy Fish*

      Absolutely not. What you are advocating is likely to get OP FIRED.

      Revenge is a fantasy. It rarely plays out nice and neat like it does in the movies.

  8. KHB*

    The court record – including the formal warning against Jane – works in your favor here, because it proves that this is serious business and you’re not just “tattling” or stirring up petty drama. I hope you’ll mention it when you talk to HR. If they have any sense, they’ll come up with a solution so that neither of you has to work with (let alone manage) the other.

    1. Kate*

      Absolutely.

      It’s essential when speaking with HR to “stick to the facts.”

      Briefly explain that you were so taken aback by seeing her onsite that you needed to take some time to consider how to move forward with HR, and in the interim have kept all communication with her in writing. But now you need to outline the situation so that the company can of course make the necessary changes to transfer her off your team.

    2. Bridget*

      It sounds like the court documents are not particularly flattering to Jane, I would imagine that an awful lot of her choices gained new context when she realized that her new job would be privy to her and her son’s bad choices.

      1. JB*

        Bad enough that things went as far as OP described definitely doesn’t flatter Jane no matter how it’s spun by her. Either she enabled it, or was so ignorant that she was completely oblivious and HR won’t be very tolerant of either read.

        The sooner OP and Jane are in positions they don’t interact, at the very least in their job roles, the better.

    3. Observer*

      I hope you’ll mention it when you talk to HR. .

      In fact, I think that that’s what the OP should lead with. And that should probably be the majority of what they tell HR.

  9. ZH*

    Just a note – it occurs to me that when you loop in HR you should definitely mention the restraining order, since that signals 1) that this is beyond ‘drama’ and 2) that a court heard what happened and agreed with you. I think that will lower the chances of it reflecting badly on you.

    1. Betty*

      I agree, I’d actually *just* focus on the fact that your family was granted a restraining order against Jane’s child and the judge issued a formal warning to her based on her actions during that process. That seems more than sufficient to make it abundantly clear that there’s a conflict of interest in having you manage her, and it’s a neutral statement of fact. But you have to talk to HR ASAP.

      I’m really sorry this happened to your family. I hope your kid is healing.

  10. MomOfR*

    I don’t have advice, but I came here to say how sorry I am that your child and you and your family have had to go through this. I hope that you and your family can continue down the path to healing that you very much deserve and that a positive outcome is achieved at work.

  11. KSprite01*

    Give HR the documentation regarding the restraining order and and on record admonishment of her. That is factual and would be difficult for her to sound differently. But do so ASAP.

  12. Trek*

    If I was in HR and this was presented to me Jane would be gone or at the very least moved to another position. This is potentially a lawsuit and it’s not worth it for a new employee. I would be curious to know if there were any background checks done and if restraining orders would normally show on a background check.

    Talk to your boss as well and let him/her know what occurred. Anyone who has managed people will know instantly that Jane must go. Also Jane sounds like someone who will cause a lot of trouble for others and I doubt it’s limited to people outside of work. I can’t imagine they would have moved forward if they had known and they should use the 90 day probationary period to their advantage and be done with Jane.

    1. Kyrielle*

      I would expect a background check to find an active restraining order against the person (I might be wrong though!) but I wouldn’t expect it to look at restraining orders against her kid or ones that nearly got put on her.

      1. The Person from the Resume*

        I agree. Background checks are not expanded to potential employee’s adult spouses except in rare circumstances, but I imagine nearly everyone would very much assume a child (“Both kids are still quite young”) would not have a record or restraining order.

      2. Watry*

        NCIC background checks (the kind you get from your police department*) are arrests only. You’d have to specifically request a court check, and even if Jane had been added, the primary victim and the primary offender both being minors would make the whole thing a cluster anyway.

        *I recognize these are not the only kind of background check but I sure as heck did a lot of them for job applicants.

      3. JM in England*

        Perhaps the company could make a change to their background check SOP to include restraining orders against the applicant’s children?

        1. Silver Robin*

          why? This is such a rare occurrence and they would then have to see if the restraining orders also effect somebody in their company. I totally get the impulse of “if they are bad enough parents that their kids have restraining orders against them then they probably suck as employees” but that is not actually the case. Jane (or possible future-Jane) might, unfortunately, be a great employee. Even “they clearly suck as parents so we do not want them working here on a culture level” is also kind of eh because what happens when the parent is doing everything they can and their *kid* just sucks (or has a mental health condition the family cannot adequately support them through)? That happens!

          This also just feels like a massive privacy overreach. Not even spouses get wrapped into background checks except for a very select number of jobs. Adding kids, specifically minors? That would be quite the step.

          I think it makes sense to handle outliers like this on a case by case basis the way OP’s company will probably handle it. Fingers crossed HR is useful.

          1. Affine Transform*

            And also, a restraining order against a kid isn’t necessarily a reflection on the parent. Some kids have APD, and good parenting doesn’t change that.

            1. Silver Robin*

              Yeah, I was trying to get at that with the parenthetical about mental health that folks cannot always handle with the supports available to them. There are enough ways that a restraining order against a kid could show up without it being about the parent, it does not make sense to look for it (assuming “good parenting” is a considered a reasonable qualification for keeping/getting a job and that is…a grey area)

          2. Susannah*

            Totally agree. Expanding a background check to ascertain the character of a potential employee’s family is an awful idea and a terrible overreach. I mean – what if a woman is looking for a job to get away from her abusive husband? What if *his* criminal record made her a “bad” hire?
            And with a kid, jeez louise, imagine a parent who is NOT a Jane, someone utterly devastated and distraught over having an out-of-control and cruel child. THAT person can never work anywhere?
            This doesn’t have to get to a place of who is right or wrong in some “drama.” It’s a straight-up conflict of interest, and would be even if “Jane” were a lovely person. OP should not be managing jane, and any competent HR will see that.

        2. wordswords*

          Why?

          This is an awful situation and I feel terrible for OP. But “does this person have a legal entanglement that would be a conflict of interest with their manager or one of their coworkers” is not the kind of situation a background check is trying to catch. “Restraining orders against the applicant’s children” could entail anything from this situation to someone who cut off contact with their adult child years ago. I’m just not sure this kind of broad-brush policy change is warranted by this terrible but extremely rare situation, or would actually help much with more common hiring issues.

        3. Jessica*

          That seems like it could penalize innocent people.

          This is a highly unusual situation. To the best of my knowledge, restraining orders against minors are relatively rare, but there are all sorts of reasons someone’s adult children might have restraining orders against them that have nothing to do with their parents.

          Given how rules can get automatically enforced, this very well could lead to, for example, a mother who had to get a restraining order against an abusive son having trouble getting a job because the background check turns it up.

      4. NotRealAnonForThis*

        I was AMAZED at what we learned background checks may or may not find (My husband owns a business and there were big issues with one now-former employee. Big issues that you would think that a background check would have sussed them out, but no, that was NOT the case at all. There’s not a ton of coordination between LEAs in the US apparently, which may not be in play with the LW’s case) even with entirely truthful application material.

        I’m assuming that the “children” are in fact minors and that may have something to do with things – at least where I live, good luck finding anything out about a minor’s sealed record without a court order.

    2. The Meat Embezzler*

      Restraining orders will usually not show up on a criminal background check as Jane has not broken any laws. The chances of this showing up under a typical internet search are also slim due to both children being minors.

      I’m in not way, shape or form defending Jane but to suggest that Jane is someone that will cause a lot of trouble is pretty uncharitable. People do all kinds of weird stuff when their kids are involved and given Jane’s reaction when she met OP, it’s pretty clear she realizes that this work situation is not the ideal one.

      1. Ismonie*

        If you are subject to a restraining order, you have broken the law. It does not mean that there were criminal charges against you, or that the harassing behavior was a criminal offense, but restraining orders exist to restrain unlawful harassment.

        1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

          …I’m pretty sure this is not always the case? My grasp of restraining orders is that you can get a temporary restraining order against someone with a lower bar of proof and due process than you’d need for someone to be actually convicted of a crime, because the restraining order can be a tool to attempt to prevent additional harm while that larger legal process plays out.

          I have no idea if this particular restraining order is the result of someone committing a crime or not, but I certainly remember various acrimonious breakups of acquaintances over the years that involved restraining orders. Some were merited, and some ended when a judge reviewed them because they were not. I also have no idea if there’s a different standard of proof needed or any of those other legal things between “restraining order upheld by a judge” and “convicted of a crime”, but I am certain that getting the initial, temporary one is a lower burden of proof and due process than an actual conviction.

          1. Redaktorin*

            It is very clear from what the OP has written that we are not talking about one of these temporary orders with lower burdens of proff.

            1. Insert Clever Name Here*

              Yes, but it seems like ‘Ismone’ was making a blanket statement to the effect of “anyone with a restraining order has broken the law” and ‘Seven hobbits are highly effective, people’ was pointing out that the blanket statement is untrue.

            2. Parakeet*

              A restraining order isn’t a criminal proceeding, full stop. Violating it is, in most parts of the US, a criminal offense, but having one against you doesn’t mean you have done something criminal (not everything bad is criminal). I’ve worked in a relevant field and would ask people not to spread misinformation.

    3. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      But if Jane’s work is good (nothing in the letter indicates it isn’t) – you are overlooking the other way HR could resolve this which is rescinding the promotion due to this conflict of interest.

      1. umami*

        OP is a known quantity who received a promotion, whereas Jane is a new hire and an unknown quantity. It seems more reasonable that OP is in a better position here, especially if they are proactive about looping in HR and sticking to the facts of the matter and seeking guidance. HR wouldn’t be the one to decide to rescind a promotion anyway;. that would be OP’s supervisor.

      2. Meep*

        Isn’t it more of a lawsuit if OP is fired vs if Jane is fired? So long as OP doesn’t fire her and it is made clear it is because of the legal ramifications of Jane not being allowed near OP, it cannot be retaliatory. It is an oversight she was hired in the first place. If OP is fired for bringing up the concerns, she has more of a leg to stand on to sue, because she is being retaliated against for bringing up an unsafe work environment.

        Even if Jane’s work is good, she is a HR nightmare.

        1. AngryOctopus*

          Jane’s hiring is not an oversight in that neither person involved knew the other was/would be working there. But it is an HR situation where OP MUST go to HR and lay out the facts (restraining order, Jane’s warning from the court) and then she lets HR handle it completely.

      3. Smithy*

        Depending on the scope of work, another way to resolve this issue would be to find Jane a job at a similar level pay but reporting into someone else and potentially with a preference to some level of separation between teams (i.e. being on different divisions, different shifts, etc.).

        While I work for a large employer, my scope of professional expertise is relatively narrow. However, it’s not so narrow that if I was a new hire and discovered I had that kind of personal conflict with my new boss that I wouldn’t be happy to be offered some other options at a similar rate of pay while I worked for someone else. It would give me a more relaxed timeline to find a new job, and also potentially discover some new/parallel skills in the interim.

      4. Irish Teacher*

        They could, but it seems like a really bad idea. I assume the LW is a valued employee, given that they got a promotion and this information indicates that Jane is a pretty volatile person, who is even capable of acting out against children. I think most companies would be worried about having somebody on their staff who almost had a restraining order placed on them for harrassing a child even if the child wasn’t related to anybody. It makes the person sound like a bully and frankly dangerous.

        Of course, people can make incredibly poor decisions, but I would hope most companies would take into account that if they rescinded a promotion and made no attempt to protect the person whose promotion they rescinded from having to work with somebody who bullied their child, the odds are high they are going to lose that employee. And presumably, they value her.

        I realise they may not have the option of just firing Jane, depending on the employment laws, the company rules, how long Jane has been there, etc, but I would hope if most companies had to choose between somebody who they had just promoted and somebody they now knew had a history of bullying so severe that a restraining order was considered, their focus would be on retaining the former employee. Jane sounds like a possible liability even if no relatives of the child who was bullied worked there.

  13. Affine Transform*

    You need to bring the restraining order to HR and your management in case there is ever a Bring Your Kid to Work Day or other kind of event where families are invited.

    I would ask your lawyer for advice as well.

    I’m sorry you are going through this.

    1. learnedthehardway*

      Very good point. That child needs to be barred from the business premises, for obvious reasons.

    1. Bird Lady*

      Yeah, I agree 100% on this. Any attempt to loop Jane in prior to going to HR will give her an opportunity to figure out a way to play the victim. Better to meet with HR with the documentation alone and let them handle it. I’d also include the family lawyer on all of this.

  14. Bookworm*

    I do not have any advice (other than agreeing with going to HR, mentioning the restraining order, etc.) but did want to send you good thoughts and wishes. I’m SO sorry that happened to your family and that you’re going through this now. Wish you and your family the best.

  15. Fleur-de-Lis*

    As so many commenters have said, go to HR now with your documentation, restraining order, and additional feedback that was provided about her behavior. You cannot be her manager, and she needs to report to someone else as soon as possible.

    1. goddessoftransitory*

      I agree with the advice above to loop their lawyer into this, too. Everybody should be on the same page with this.

  16. Narise*

    Anyone curious if this falls under a stalking situation where Jane applied for a job at OP’s work place? I would almost wonder if I were being stalked if this occurred because what are the odds you end up at the same place after you move and sell your home? Take all court documents to your boss and HR and explain that you are not certain how to handle but this is not a good situation for anyone involved, including Jane. Ask them to resolve the issue with Jane reporting to you and/or being in your department. And if she is stalking you this could go south very quickly.

    You can choose to state you are concerned she is stalking you or not, go with your gut, but I think any mention of court case, restraining orders, and potential stalking is going to get their attention.

    1. SereneScientist*

      I’m curious but ultimately speculating like this doesn’t really help LW with her situation because the response, as you’ve laid it out, is the same even if there is significant stalking behavior on Jane’s part.

    2. Peanut Hamper*

      No, I’m not. Given that Jane blanched when she saw LW, I highly doubt it.

      Speculative fan-fiction on the part of either the peanut gallery or the LW is not going to do LW any good. It’s just going to make the LW look a bit bananapants as well. Stick to the facts of what happened, not what you think is happening. HR can draw their own conclusions.

      1. MsM*

        Plus, didn’t Jane get hired even before OP got moved to this office on account of the promotion?

        1. Dust Bunny*

          The company filled an open role at my new location just before I was promoted;

          It sounds like it.

      2. Infrequent Poster*

        Since I know this site’s commenters care about this kind of thing – I recently learned myself that “peanut gallery” is a racially problematic term. I’m trying to excise it from my vocab.

    3. Heidi*

      It sounds like Jane was hired before they promoted the OP, so it doesn’t sound like Jane could have known that the OP would be her manager. The OP mentions that they moved to a different part of the county, but some counties are quite small so it may not be geographically that far away.

    4. Chilipepper Attitude*

      It sounds like the OP and the other woman both moved across the country and landed at the same employer. I know the other woman looked shocked when she saw OP, but OP also moved from one location at that employer to another, maybe the shock was that the OP was at this specific location? Could the other woman/family moved to the area on purpose?

      If this is more of the same stalking behavior, I think the OP needs to do more than go to HR, she needs to contact her lawyer and even local police

      1. KHB*

        OP says that they moved across the county, not the country. It sounds like this whole story takes place in basically the same metropolitan area.

        1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          Ohhh! Whew. I feel better now. Thank you and no thanks at all to my reading comprehension and my ADHD. I totally read “country”.

      2. Stevie Budd*

        Moved across the county, not the country, so not so strange that they could end up working the same place.

    5. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      I am definitely wondering how, after OP and their family moved to the other side of the country, Jane is suddenly there too. Does that mean that Timmy also moved and is now close to OP? That made me hyperventilate. But it’s not related to the question and is not my business to know, so… we don’t have to know any of this. I’d keep it strictly businesslike “I cannot manage this person and here is the documentation explaining why. What would you recommend?”

    6. Random Bystander*

      No–LW is changing locations with a promotion, and “Jane” was hired at the new location. It doesn’t seem reasonable that she would have applied to NewLocation on the hopes that LW would be transferred to that (and certainly not with LW in a supervisory capacity). It seems like a matter of a really bad convergence of events.

      I think that the existence of the restraining order against Jane’s son Timmy and an on-record admonishment (which can be substantiated with a transcript of the proceedings) is more than enough and remains firmly based in documented facts.

      1. Chilipepper Attitude*

        I was speculating that “Jane” was hired at the new location but on purpose to stalk OP who “Jane” thought was at the same company but other location. “Jane’s” shock was at seeing OP at that location. I know we don’t usually speculate but this is about safety and I think OP should consider this and do more than go to HR, she should go to her lawyer/police, etc.

        I feel for the OP and her child and wish you healing and love and all the things!

        1. Bunny Lake Is Found*

          I think this depends on how many locations/branches there are of the parent company…and also if it is an affiliate group or the exact same company.

          The locations also must be siloed quite a bit for LW to not have seen even the NAME of a new hire she would be supervising at the new location.

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

      It sounds like Jane didn’t know OP was going to be her manager. but I’m wondering if she knew if OP worked for this company. If Jane did apply knowing that she might have contact with the OP that would be bad for her. Unless it’s such a huge corporation that so many people work there that it didn’t cross her mind that there could be a problem.

    8. Mark the Herald*

      I’m surprised I had to read down so far to find a comment like this. The OP moved literally across the country to flee this family, changed jobs, changed cities, changed schools… and of all the gin joints in all the cities in all the world, Jane walks onto her new team, at her new company, in her new town, in her new state? That would be one hell of a coincidence. Then add in that both mother and son engaged in criminal-charges-against-a-minor, restraining order, moving states level of extreme, bullying, sociopathic behavior, and I find it impossible to believe this is a coincidence. It seems predatory.

      Did HR check references? I would wonder about what Jane said to land this job.

      1. Mark the Herald*

        Okay – county not country. That makes it less crazy… but it still makes my skin prickle. If you are unlucky enough to have encountered people like this, you get an instinct for them.

        I would still warn the OP to never, ever be alone with this person. Everything single solitary interaction by email, on the record, or in front of multiple witnesses. Park under the security cameras. Grey rock it. Go to HR now with a copy of the restraining order, and put your boss in the meeting too. Don’t give Jane any chance to fabricate a story to get you fired.

    9. Observer*

      Anyone curious if this falls under a stalking situation where Jane applied for a job at OP’s work place?

      Highly unlikely. If this were deliberate, Jane would not have gone pale when she saw the OP.

      1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        If this were deliberate, Jane would not have gone pale when she saw the OP.

        The art of acting is not restricted to professionals; you’re going to need stronger evidence than that to convince me.

        1. New Jack Karyn*

          But . . . to what end? OP has more power in this situation. Saying this is stalking requires us to believe that Jane researched where OP is working and got herself hired to a location where OP had not yet begun, just to be in a position under OP’s authority. With no other stalking behaviors since being warned by the judge.

          It’s fictional levels of Evil Genius to have this be Jane’s actual plan.

  17. corporateGirl*

    This isn’t really the same but my uncle once dated my math teacher’s sister. It ended badly. A year later, I had the sister as my teacher. I should have disclosed this to the school counselor so they could move me, but I didn’t and I had the worst year of my life having to be around someone who’s relations with my family went sour.

    Definitely try and talk to HR. At least it’ll be documented.

    Good luck friend.

    1. Meep*

      I hope you don’t beat yourself up over this. You were the victim all around. It is her responsibility as the one holding power.

      1. Irish Teacher*

        Yes, it was the teacher’s responsibility to either request the student be moved or to behave professionally and treat the student like any other.

    2. Student*

      Your teacher was off her rocker. It is completely irrational, Hatfield and McCoy-esque banana pantaloons.

      Sane and well-adjusted adults do not penalize children because a relationship between two other adults went poorly.

  18. higheredadmin*

    OP, I’m so sorry. Props to you for doing everything you can for you kid and your family.

  19. Nia*

    Last time I checked being the mother of a bully wasn’t a protected class. You already know she’s a terrible person just get rid of her.

    1. Liz the Snackbrarian*

      I could see the employee potentially twisting the story if LW just outright fires her. It also risks her coming across as petty or vindictive. I’m not saying it should be that way but it’s a possibility. The whole thing will seem more above board if there’s a third party involved.

      1. Nia*

        People seem real hung up on what Jane could say. Who cares what Jane says? Presumably the rest of her coworkers are reasonable people who will be grateful to be rid of Jane when they hear the story.

        1. Llama Identity Thief*

          “Presumably” means that there’s a .01% chance scenario her coworkers aren’t reasonable people. There’s no reason to risk that .01% chance.

        2. Redaktorin*

          No, most people are not reasonable and will side with whoever they met first. Especially if that person is good at manipulation.

        3. Meep*

          In a perfect world, I would love to agree with you. But we are not in a perfect world. The optics will look bad and open OP up to potential lawsuits if she needs to fire anyone else because now there is a pattern.

        4. Ellie Rose*

          this is really out of touch with how some bullies behave. they are often quite good at turning the situation around so *they* are seen as the victim, and the true victim is further harmed.

          triangulation and ‘flying monkeys’ and ‘playing the victim’ are phrases to Google if you truly haven’t seen this happen before

        5. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

          This is foolhardy. The idea that people just need to ignore bullies and kids will be kids and don’t be a helicopter Mom or you’ll raise snowflakes is far more prevalent in this country (unfortunately) than not tolerating bullying. See: the LW’s experience with the school. Either way, you don’t want to get in she said-she said situation, because lots of people will not be so precise in handing out the blame for who is causing the drama.

        6. Joron Twiner*

          If the coworkers are reasonable people, they will be concerned that managers can fire people based on their personal conflicts with them outside the workplace. Jane has behaved badly but she still deserves to have a job somewhere with a manager who doesn’t already hate her. Let HR work it out, it looks less personal that way.

        7. Lenora Rose*

          DARVO is a concept for a reason. (The last parts are Reverse Victim and Offender) Adult bullies are often very good at telling their story so they are the injured party.

          More to the point, though, managers retaliating against their workers, including by firing , generally give everyone around them a bad impression, and worry the good workers. Better to go the HR route and let them decide. Then OP can be sure that the actions are above board and non-retaliatory, even when the action is identical (firing)

      2. 3DogNight*

        You can’t fire someone for something a 3rd person did prior to that person being hired. No company with an HR department is going to take on that liability with that as the reason.
        And honestly, if employment was really based on that kind of thinking, none of us would have jobs.

        1. Rosemary*

          In most US states can’t you fire anyone for any reason other than if they are protected class? I agree that it is not a good look if OP herself fires Jane, but no reason why the company couldn’t. They could fire her because they found out she hates Star Wars or doesn’t mow her lawn.

        2. Observer*

          You can’t fire someone for something a 3rd person did prior to that person being hired.

          In the US? Definitely can. Besides, the issue is not *just* what Jane’s SON did, but what JANE did, to get a formal warning from the court.

          No company with an HR department is going to take on that liability with that as the reason

          If they are worried about liability, firing Jane is not the thing that gives them the most liability, though.

          1. Student*

            Mmm, think you could potentially make a case out of it in some states. Some states consider “familial status” a protected class for employment (at the federal level, it’s only protected for housing, not employment). If you fire her because of her kid, that might cross the line. You’d want a strong justification that you aren’t firing her because she has a kid, specifically.

            1. Observer*

              Nope. This is not what “familial status” refers to. It means that you are a parent / pregnant / married (or the reverse).

              1. *kalypso*

                Yes, that’s why the comment says ” You’d want a strong justification that you aren’t firing her because she has a kid, specifically.” i.e. strong justification that the dismissal is not on the grounds of Jane being a parent.

          2. JustKnope*

            I mean sure you *legally* can do it but most companies have policies against managers randomly firing people, and especially randomly firing people for personal reasons. OP would have to go through whatever process for firing the company has in place anyway… hence why just going to talk to HR for help sorting it out is the right move.

            1. Observer*

              Sure. All I’m saying is that whatever the company decides to do, they are totally not facing *legal* issues if they choose to fire Jane over this.

      1. MigraineMonth*

        Even the ones who do almost always have to explain why to their superiors and HR, to make sure they aren’t firing based on protected characteristics.
        Immediately firing someone due to a personal issue without even looping in HR is going to look like bad judgement for a brand-new manager.

        1. Reality.Bites*

          OP can’t be Jane’s manager – and that means she can’t make the decision to fire her either.

          OP needs to go to HR and explain why she can’t be Jane’s manager. It is up to them to resolve the situation.

    2. Marketing Ninja Unicorn*

      Yes, but being a terrible person isn’t a reason for dismissal. It should be, but it’s not.

      Playing out your scenario, OP fires Jane because Jane is the mother of a bully. Jane files for UEC. Since she wasn’t fired for cause, OP’s company has to pay out UEC, and now OP has to explain why she did that.

      ALSO, going to HR allows HR to handle the conversation with Jane about what will/will not be said about her if she lists this company as an employer and someone does a reference check. Obviously OP cannot and should not be a reference check for Jane. HR could agree with Jane that they will confirm dates of employment and nothing else. HR and legal could come to a solution about what would be said if the company is asked, ‘Is this person eligible for re-hire?’ I mean, technically, hell no, the situation with Jane and OP means as long as OP works there Jane can’t, but she’s not INeligible because of theft or behavior at work or whatever.

      OP, I am so sorry this happened to you, and I agree with everyone else that you take every piece of documentation you have from the court to HR, like yesterday, and you lay out the case and explain that you cannot manage Jane and she cannot be on your team.

      I know that at my work, our HR would move heaven and earth to have Jane re-assigned by the end of the day that was brought to our attention.

      1. Nia*

        We are presumably speaking of the land of zero employment protections. If a manager decides being a terrible person is grounds for dismissal then it is.

        1. KHB*

          But the same zero employment protections that apply to Jane also apply to OP. OP may be legally in the clear to fire Jane for her actions outside of work, but that doesn’t mean the employer will be OK with it.

          1. Nia*

            Why wouldn’t her employer be okay with it? I’m honestly confused at these comments. By all means loop management in on why you’re doing it but I’ve never worked anywhere where the reaction would be anything other than ‘why haven’t you fired her already’.

            1. Llama Identity Thief*

              We’ve seen enough situations of surprise unreasonable employers on this website to know “your management has been reasonable in the past and thus will be in the future” is NOT a guarantee. When the main goal of any of the advice here should be to avoid any extra trauma for LW & family, it’s not worth even the most miniscule of chances of backfire.

            2. biobotb*

              Everywhere you’ve worked, they’ve been OK with firing people for behavior that occurred outside the workplace?

            3. Affine Transform*

              At will employment doesn’t mean companies can fire someone with no repercussions. Jane can make a legal case that this was retaliatory firing for events that happened outside work. She might even be able to make a case that she wasn’t even the one who caused any harm, and that OP wasn’t even the target of the behavior.

              Managers are not Batman. They do not take on bad guys, right wrongs, or mete out vengeance. OP is going to have to work with whatever framework her company has in place to protect her legally and ethically. That might mean firing Jane, but it might not.

              1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                In the US (except for Montana) this isn’t correct. It’s not illegal to fire someone for events outside of work, as long as those events aren’t specifically protected behavior (which this is not). That doesn’t mean the OP’s company will fire Jane, but there’s some incorrect legal info being tossed around here.

                1. Affine Transform*

                  I didn’t say firing someone for actions outside work was illegal–in fact, I specifically said in a comment that hasn’t posted yet that companies absolutely can fire people for things outside of work! I said that Jane can make a legal case that the firing was retaliatory, that she wasn’t the one who caused harm, and the OP wasn’t the target. And she can! I’m not saying she will win the case in court, but if Jane just fires her on her own, which is what Nia is advocating and doesn’t understand the pushback too, she can absolutely be a legal hassle that OP’s company does not want. There are plenty of reactions other than ‘why haven’t you fired her already’.

                2. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  I said that Jane can make a legal case that the firing was retaliatory, that she wasn’t the one who caused harm, and the OP wasn’t the target.

                  Again, none of that is a legal cause of action in the US.

                  I agree the OP certainly shouldn’t just fire Jane on her own, but please stop repeating inaccurate legal info!

                3. Llama Identity Thief*

                  @Garlic Microwaver I believe that doesn’t change a thing. The US is largely at-will employment. If I understand it correctly, employers have the right to terminate your employment for ANY non-“protected class” reason, including no reason at all.

            4. Margaret Cavendish*

              I think if Jane does get fired, it should come from HR or from someone higher up in the company. If OP does the firing, it’s going to look like their decision, even if others in the company are okay with it. Whereas if it comes from HR or a VP somewhere, it becomes less about OP specifically, and more clear that it’s an organization-wide decision.

              1. learnedthehardway*

                Agreeing. Also, if Jane was hired away from another company, regardless of the at will / not at will employment rules in her state, she may have a civil case for being lured away from gainful employment by another company, under false pretenses or when they should have realized that she wasn’t going to be able to stay with the company because of her new manager. Jane could argue that the company did not act in good faith when they hired her.

                No idea of whether this would be successful or not, but Jane could argue that the company knew or should have known (whether the company did know or not – it’s hard to prove a negative).

                1. New Jack Karyn*

                  Ooh, no. Jane will not have this cause of action. I think the only way that could possibly play out is if someone in OP’s position knowingly had HR hire Jane, keeping her own identity secret, waited for Jane to be onboarded, and THEN fired her. Those aren’t the facts, so no civil case for Jane.

            5. yvve*

              i really feel like a lot of people are imagining this situation playing out as if everyone else is already on OPs side and knows jane is the bad guy. We heard OPs story directly from her and her only, but thats not how the other ppl involved will get this information. “OP fired someone because her child bullied their child!” is not a great look. Most of the people will hear this version third hand, not hear a detailed explanation of the exact circumstances.

            6. Bunny Lake Is Found*

              Then you worked at some pretty strange places. Like, if Jane is a great performer and so is LW, no decent company is going to want LW to just sack Jane without a plan or some attempt to mitigate the situation. Hell, what if Jane has a certification they need? Sacking Jane with no replacement lined up could be a costly decision when “Ok, so we are going to have Jane report to Tom now” is a solution on the table.

              Knee jerk fantasy reactions end up on Facebook or Twitter and create a problem for the company, but more so might bring all this back up for LW’s child and their whole family. LW wants this to be in her past, not have her personal trauma bleed all over her professional life.

            7. Kella*

              I’m curious if you can find a single example in all of Ask a Manager history where a manager who fired an employee exclusively for personal reasons was the good guy in the story. You will find stories of managers who dislike their report *and* the report has performance problems, and even in those, you’ll see managers have to go through the process of documenting the issue and providing opportunities for improvement before the employee can be fired.

              You will probably find that ALL of the managers who have fired someone for personal reasons conduct all their business in a similarly inappropriate way. They tend to pursue personal agendas rather than the goals of their actual job, they are often corrupt and power hungry, and/or they are frequently prone to dishonesty to shield themselves from consequences.

              The idea that it’s fine to fire someone for exclusively personal reasons is deeply in conflict with the basic responsibilities and priorities of a manager.

        2. Colette*

          That’s not always true – it may be legal, but the many companies have additional processes for firing, and the OP needs to follow them. And if she doesn’t and the person she fires sues, it’ll not go well for her.

        3. Joron Twiner*

          Most companies still have their own internal rules about when it’s OK to fire someone. OP could lose her own job.

          I agree US employment protections are incredibly weak but it’s ridiculous to pretend that companies don’t set their own internal standards that are much higher than the legal minimum.

    3. Dust Bunny*

      We don’t know that, actually. Maybe she makes excuses for him, but maybe he has some serious psychological issues and her family is struggling, too. The original post doesn’t say that the parents fought/escalated the situation, just that there has been a lot of trouble with their child.

      1. Llama Identity Thief*

        TBF, the original post does say Jane got an on-the-record warning, and was nearly added to the restraining order herself.

      2. Observer*

        The original post doesn’t say that the parents fought/escalated the situation,

        Yes it does. Specifically, the OP says that At a certain point in the last year, she behaved just about as badly as her child did, and the judge considered including her in the restraining order, but was instead issued a warning on the record

    4. umami*

      The challenge here is that OP didn’t hire this person, s/he inherited her after a promotion. In that circumstance, even without the added issue of Jane being the mother of OP’s bully, it would be unusual to outright fire a new employee that was just hired by your company. OP is much better served by letting their boss and HR know of the existing relationship so that someone other than OP is involved in the decision re: Jane.

      1. Kyrielle*

        The other beauty of OP taking this to HR is that if HR handles this like I expect they will*, OP doesn’t have to spend another bit of energy thinking about how to sort this mess out.

        * I expect they’ll either transfer Jane to another manager, maybe even another location, or let her go. Most places I hope would not retaliate against OP, and I find it impossible to imagine that “leave Jane reporting to OP” is going to be on the list of options they consider.

        1. MigraineMonth*

          If OP lays out the issue for HR (instead ofgoing one of the weird revenge routes), the 95% case is that Jane is transferred or let go. I’d honestly be afraid to work anyplace with such a batshit HR that they didn’t do that.

    5. biobotb*

      Well, being the mother of a bullied child also isn’t a protected class, so OP’s employer could also fire her if they thought firing Jane was mismanagement.

    6. Zarniwoop*

      There’s a very high probability that she got warned by the judge because she’s a terrible person. There’s a small but nonzero possibility that she acted that way because she’s stuck in a really difficult situation and totally stressed out.

    7. Broadway Duchess*

      You are espousing some really problematic ideas. If you’ve never been a manager of people (vs. manager of projects), it’s possible you don’t know why “just (getting) rid of” Timmy’s mom is a bad strategy. If you have managed (or are currently managing), I’d hope you don’t treat people the way you are advocating. OP should be commended for realizing she is too close to the situation to be objective and her experiences with this woman completely justifies her feelings. She’s asking for legitimate, actionable advice, not girl boss fantasies.

    8. Bunny Lake Is Found*

      Nope. Do not do this. What exactly would LW tell THEIR manager why she fired Jane? What if Jane was in the middle of something crucial to the company? Jane might be terrible, but your course of action will make LW look like a terrible manager. Not because LW doesn’t want to work with Jane, but because she would be taking the most knee-jerk, high drama path to deal with the problem.

  20. Berin*

    Echoing everyone else to go to HR, without this woman present. I would acknowledge that you should have come to HR immediately, but the shock of seeing your child’s tormenter’s mother took you aback and you were unsure what to do. Bring the court documentation and offer it in case they need it; suggested language may be that her working under you is unfair to both of you, and that you want to request a transfer for her to ensure that she is being as set up for success as much as possible at your company. This is definitely giving her consideration that she does not deserve, but it should clue HR in that you are trying to view this from a professional lens, not a personal one, and that you’re not seeking retribution for her actions outside of the workplace (despite the fact that she sounds like she deserves some retribution).

    If HR pushes back, you can get a bit more assertive; setting aside the fact that her son is facing legal consequences for tormenting your child, this woman harmed your family above and beyond her son’s bullying, this has been acknowledged in a court of law, and it is not feasible for you to manage her, nor for your company to stunt your career based on her actions. Your company should have some sort of workplace safety policy; it may be worth looking at that prior to meeting with HR as well.

    I am so sorry you are being retraumatized. Please update us, we are all rooting for you!

    1. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

      This is great. Everyone is in a bad spot while the OP manages Jane. No matter how hard the OP tries, they’re not going to be able to manage Jane effectively. For example, it would probably be extra hard to have conversations with her if there are issues with her performance, with a bunch of soul-searching about whether it’s really an issue or you’re just looking for problems, how big an issue it is, whether you’re handling it the same way you would with everyone else. It’d be exhausting.

      Your suggestion about noting to HR that a move would benefit Jane as well is a good one. It makes it clear you’re not out to get her or punish her; you’re not demanding she be fired or demoted! You just want a situation that’s better for everyone. Given the seriousness of the issues – it’s not exactly easy to get a restraining order! Especially against a child! – and the fact that Jane was part of the problem, I’d hope the company moves quickly to do something. Like, this sounds like it wasn’t a situation where Jane was doing her best to make things better, but was struggling.

      1. New Jack Karyn*

        “Everyone is in a bad spot while the OP manages Jane.” This is true. It also includes other members of the team! They’ve started to notice how OP treats Jane differently, and they’re probably starting to wonder. Because they don’t know the backstory, OP might be coming off as . . . well, a lot of different things, and many of them aren’t good.

        Best for Jane to transfer.

      2. Ismonie*

        My state doesn’t have a different legal standard for getting restraining orders against minors.

        1. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

          I’d be curious to see stats on what percent of requests for restraining orders are granted against children and against adults.

    2. Six Degrees of Separation*

      I also think this is great advice. OP, I might loop your lawyer into all this beforehand just to cover your bases.

    3. learnedthehardway*

      In addition to mentioning that she was in shock, the OP could explain the delay in contacting HR by saying they wanted to get business / legal advice first. I mean, the OP SHOULD get advice from their attorney on this. And she IS getting business advice here from Allison.

      HR doesn’t like to find out about these things after the fact. It’s important to tell them now. And mentioning that one has obtained legal advice should go some ways to getting HR to take the situation very seriously.

  21. Liz the Snackbrarian*

    I think go to HR immediately with a copy of the written warning that was given by the judge.

  22. WantonSeedStitch*

    I would absolutely go to HR, and START the conversation with the restraining order information so it’s clear right away how severe the situation is.

    “I haven’t been sure how to bring this up, but I’ve realized it’s necessary. When I was brought into this role, I became Jane’s manager. My family has a restraining order against Jane’s son because of extreme bullying against my child, and the judge who issued the order also gave Jane a formal warning as a result of her behavior during the case (you could even cite examples here of things that the judge said Jane was doing that resulted in the warning). Obviously this is creating a very difficult situation for me as Jane’s manager, and I felt it was important to disclose this information. What do you think is the best way to deal with this situation?”

    1. Melissa*

      Yes I agree! When I opened the letter, I read the first couple of paragraphs, then skipped to the end and to Alison’s answer. In doing so, I missed the MASSIVE point about the mother being issued a reprimand in lieu of being named on the restraining order! The OP doesn’t want HR to end up hearing the story the same way. Open with the judge and the restraining order! Then, after that, explain that it involved bullying against your son.

      1. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

        I agree. Coming at it as “Jane’s kid bullied mine” makes it sound way less severe. Definitely don’t bury the lede here.

    2. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

      I totally agree with the point of bringing up the restraining order and warning from the judge right at the start. However, I think it’s reasonable to say that the OP managing Jane is an untenable situation and you’d like them to seriously consider transferring her to another position. It can be helpful to be clear about what your ideal scenario is / what would work for you, rather than leaving it to the other person to generate solutions.

      1. WantonSeedStitch*

        Absolutely a good idea. I think suggesting that as a possible solution is totally reasonable.

    3. Llama Llama Workplace Drama*

      I’m curious if it is worth looping in her attorney before she goes to HR? In case the attorney can suggest the best words to use? There are certain phrases that may get HR ‘to the right thing’?

      1. GrooveBat*

        Yes, I think they should. If, for no other reason, then it explains OP’s delay in notifying HR. No one is going to look askance at someone who takes a measured response and discusses the situation with their attorney in an ongoing legal matter.

      2. NotRealAnonForThis*

        Honestly, I’m mentally sitting at “is this a case where it may be worth having your lawyer come with you to see HR? Or at least have them on speed dial during the meeting, and don’t have the meeting until you’ve consulted with them”?

        Because this seems….huge. There doesn’t appear to be any oversight, purposefully, on any parties part, but it seems like s situation where something needs to be done, and needs to be done in a way that is compliant with an ongoing legal situation first, with the health and wellbeing of the LW’s child and family a very close second/tied with the compliant with legal situation part.

  23. career coach near the sea*

    Please contact your attorney asap to bring them up to date. You’ll want all of your documentation about your own hiring process, offer date, etc. You need to expect that this development between your two families is going to wind up in front of the judge, so be the first to share the info.

    1. Fleur-de-Lis*

      +1 to this – you need to loop in your counsel now so you can move forward with HR with the benefit of legal advice that is in your interest, not the interest of the company. The worst case scenario is that BOTH of you end up fired, and that would be terrible.

    2. starsaphire*

      Yep. And this gives you a cushion on the time it took you to go to HR.

      “I should have stepped on this immediately, but took some time to reflect and also to consult my personal attorney. Jane’s family and mine have a history, and I can’t ethically manage her. In fact, there’s a restraining order involved; I have a copy with me. Let’s discuss how we can mitigate this situation going forward…”

    3. connie*

      Yep. Definitely loop in your personal attorney and whomever in a county or district attorney’s office might have been involved in obtaining the restraining order. You need all points of contact with that family well-documented.

  24. I Am On Email*

    Oh OP I am so sorry that this has happened to you. Some excellent advice on here already but I’d echo that you really need to loop in HR. Include the court documents that mention Jane has behaved badly as this information is really in your favour. Apologise for not bringing it up immediately but state you were so shocked to see her given that you’d moved halfway across the country for a fresh start.

    I think this will be the letter from 2023 that I wonder most about. I really hope nothing nefarious is happening and they’ve followed you in your move.

  25. Junior Dev*

    I would not use the word “bully” in describing the situation. I would, in addressing HR, use the sorts of words you’d use to describe an adult engaging in this behavior towards another adult—words like stalking, harassment, theft, vandalism, assault (depending on the exact behavior). “Bully” tends to trivialize these things by lumping it in with less harmful behaviors.

    1. Katherine*

      This. People trivialise bullying all the time. Even I wasnt thinking bullying -was going to lead to ‘our child almost died’ while reading the letter.

      1. Cthulhu's Librarian*

        Huh. See… as a once-horrifically-bullied-child, that was probably the least shocking part of the letter to me.

        Bullying that is bad enough to lead to suicide or accidental deaths is remarkably common and overlooked in children. Partly this is because children often lack a fully developed sense of empathy, partly because they often lack the ability to really think through the consequences of their actions, partly because far too many adults believe children are likely to blow things out of proportion and make it sound worse than it was, and partly because far too many adults underestimate the amount of damage one child can do to another (they are calibrated to think in terms of the damage a child can do to the adult thinking of the scenario, rather than remembering how weak and helpless they were as a child).

        I was frankly more surprised that anything is happening to the bully and their family. Pleasantly so, I add.

        1. Boof*

          I think the problem is “bully” is like “toxic” and “abusive” and can range from being really horrific and illegal things to completely false/problematic behavior on the claimants part. Starting off with talking about the restraining order and judge issuing a warning on the record the behaviors gives a much more specific description of the situation.

    2. Capt.*

      I am a hard no on this. You can’t claim assault without a documented assault. Same goes with all those other charges. LW needs to talk to her attorney she has already been using and show whatever she has like the retraining order. LW does not need to embellish or lie here.

      1. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

        That’s not how I read the comment from Junior Dev. I understood it to be a suggestion to describe Timmy’s and Jane’s actual behaviour, rather than simply referring to it as “bullying.” Like if Timmy assaulted the OP’s child, say assaulted, not “bullied.” I don’t see any advice to embellish or lie, just to not risk downplaying the seriousness of the situation by just referring to it as “bullying.”

        1. Junior Dev*

          Yes, this exactly. I’m saying don’t *understate* the nature of the actual behavior with the word “bullying”.

    3. El*

      Agree–if the courts are involved, use whatever legal terminology is relevant–the crimes that have been charged.

    4. squirreltooth*

      I was just thinking the same thing—I could see some people being dismissive about the situation because of the mindset that everyone gets bullied a little and it creates character or something. (Personally, it never made me a stronger person, but I digress.) OP should use stronger and more direct wording to describe what Jane’s kid put her son through.

    5. fhqwhgads*

      None of that’s even necessary. Just say “my family has a restraining order against her son, and the judge considered including her in it, but ultimately gave her an official warning. I can provide documentation if needed”. No one’s going to assume OP successfully got a restraining order for something lightweight. No need to give anyone a route to get judgey about what the behavior was.
      There’s a restraining order. The company should not want these two in the same building let alone one directly reporting to the other. This should be an “obviously X can’t continue” and let HR handle it from there.

  26. Hiring Mgr*

    Definitely talk to HR, and keep in mind she may do the same, or she may already have. In her shoes if I showed up to my new job and you were her boss, I would definitely be worried.

  27. The Person from the Resume*

    The only thing I’d add or emphasize is go to HR ASAP. I’m not sure when this letter was sent to Alison so I don’t quite have a handle on the timeline, but as the manager you’re the one more responsible for managing this relationship. Ideally you would have brought this up to HR immediately upon meeting your new employee, Jane.

    Take the time (a day or two at most) to gather the legal documentation and get to HR to explain that you have a conflict of interest in managing the new hire in your department and ask for their guidance / help / recommendation. Ideally they would move Jane or find some other way for you to not manage her or have to interact with her since you have great rapport with everyone else but can be at most standoffish with Jane.

    I don’t know if you’ll get the ideal reaction, but you need to try to get ahead of this. And get your side of the story / the truth to HR before Jane does or people start to wonder about why you are so cold to Jane.

    1. Emily*

      “The only thing I’d add or emphasize is go to HR ASAP. I’m not sure when this letter was sent to Alison so I don’t quite have a handle on the timeline, but as the manager you’re the one more responsible for managing this relationship. Ideally you would have brought this up to HR immediately upon meeting your new employee, Jane.” Yes!!! OP, you really need to go to HR right away without delay.

  28. Wait what*

    “Frankly, if I were in Jane’s shoes” – what? In the shoes of someone whose behavior was so bad that a judge openly warned that she was almost included in a restraining order against her child? Jane is not a helpless victim or someone caught up in a personal dispute she had nothing to do with.

    I thought this blog was anti-bully but guess that’s situational.

    1. Stripes*

      What? Nothing about that section expresses approval or acceptance of Jane’s behavior or Jane’s child’s behavior. It is merely saying what actions Jane might take in her own interest at this point, for the purpose of helping the OP navigate the situation and forseeing possible outcomes.

    2. Goldenrod*

      I don’t agree that putting oneself in Jane’s shoes – in order to imagine how she might act in this situation – is the same as being pro-bullying!

    3. Llama Identity Thief*

      It’s strictly being used as a way to help LW understand how this may play out on Jane’s end, the level of “oh no this isn’t personal drama this is clearly untenable,” by showcasing how even the bully in this scenario would logically be looking to disengage on her own end. It is not being used in any way to excuse Jane’s behavior or paint her as a victim. I find this a rather uncharitable read of what is mostly a throwaway line in Alison’s advice.

    4. Peanut Hamper*

      Did you bother to read the rest of it? I in no way got the feeling that the advice was pro-Jane. Rather, that Jane is the one who should definitely be doing the worrying here.

    5. Critical Rolls*

      Wait what? indeed. That is not a pro-Jane comment, merely a note that the situation could resolve itself by Jane doing the sensible thing and leaving. This would be a positive outcome for LW.

    6. Horrified Lurker*

      Oh stop. It’s clear from Alison’s response that she in no way condones anything that Jane or her son have done, but that doesn’t change the fact that OP is currently her manager and therefore has to treat her with the same degree of professionalism as all her other reports.

      I sincerely hope that HR is able to quickly offer a solution that separates OP from Jane, it must be heartwrenching to be in this situation after taking so many steps to get away from them.

    7. Silver Robin*

      I read it as Alison being sympathetic to OP – there is a good reason why the Jane problem might just resolve itself without OP having to stress too much. OP should still go to HR, but no reason to assume that Jane is sticking around to make OP’s life a misery, Jane might very well be desperately trying to leave asap. That is potentially good news for OP!

    8. Curious*

      While I’m “team OP” (and I expect everyone else here is as well), people who do bad things — even convicted criminals after they are released from prison! — still need jobs. While it is clear that OP should not be forced to work with Jane, it isn’t a sin to consider Jane’s perspective.

    9. Csethiro Ceredin*

      Maybe this is a sensitive topic for you, and I sympathize, but I didn’t read it that way at all.

      We try to imagine others’ perspective and what they might do pretty often, maybe even more so if we don’t relate to them.

      I heard a bunch of people in the lunchroom talking about what they would be worried about if they were Putin and what he might do, but it was very much not a pro-Putin conversation. I don’t think this is in any way pro-bully, either.

    10. theletter*

      Frankly, if I were in Jane’s shoes, I’d be so horrified by my own actions that I’d want the earth to open up and swallow me whole. But since that’s impossible, I’d do the next best thing and start looking for another job.

      Does that clarify things?

      Looking for a new job is about the only appropriate thing Jane can do at this point.

      1. Bunny Lake Is Found*

        Exactly. Unless Jane is totally oblivious, she must know LW has told HR (or is planning to tell HR) about the fact Jane’s kid bullied another kid so bad there is a RESTRAINING ORDER involved. And that LW might tell OTHER PEOPLE at work. If Jane has an ounce of self-preservation for her reputation, she will exit this work environment and save LW a lot of trouble.

        1. Boof*

          Yep. In the scenario where Jane was a bully too*, now one of their targets has a lot of very direct power over them! Bully nightmare! I can only imagine they’d want to get out of there asap.
          *I believe the OP just don’t have much context about what type of bad behavior went on

  29. Goldenrod*

    The ONLY good thing about this is that at least it’s not the other way around (with OP having to report to Jane).

    And I agree that full disclosure and transparency is the way to go! I feel like any decent boss will have Jane report to someone else….We definitely will need an update on this one!

    1. MCMonkeyBean*

      Yes, in theory OP is in a decent position here and they have the power both in the sense of being the boss *and* in the sense of having worked at this company for a while and having a good enough record to get promoted while Jane is new. Those facts make me optimistic that this will work out okay for them.

      But having the power is also a reason to tread carefully as she has to make sure to handle this in a way that doesn’t leave her other employees wondering if she would abuse that power with them. Hopefully HR can make sure OP doesn’t get any blowback from however the situation gets handled.

  30. M. from P.*

    I wonder if it would be a good idea to get a lawyer (but not delay going to HR because of it).
    My heart goes out to you and your family.

  31. Snarkus Aurelius*

    I echo everyone else saying you need to alert HR and provide them with all the legal documentation so they know this isn’t a “personality clash” over kickball or something.

    I had a former neighborhood bully who terrorized my family and me for **six years** in the 1980s. All of it was race-based even though we were white! (My family has dark skin and dark hair.) This person never suffered any repercussions or at least none that were effective.

    That bully ended to becoming an elementary school teacher! Frightening!

    I absolutely didn’t want this woman near my child. Although I could have talked to her directly, I also knew that she could pretend she didn’t know me as she’d done successfully so many times before. So I alerted her principal and provided documentation of her being my classmate and the details of what she’d done over multiple years in and outside of school, including police involvement. I never heard what was done to her because they can’t tell me that, but I do know she has had zero interaction with my child.

    I did all that to protect myself and my child. I suggest you do the same.

    1. ScruffyInternHerder*

      How is it that so many childhood bullies WIND UP BEING TEACHERS?

      I’ve got one of those too – she teaches middle school. Thankfully I’m in a different district.

  32. Jade*

    I had this situation almost to a T. Cops and lawyers involved. I’d never work with the family that terrorized us. I can’t even look at them. We moved. For me, I’d tell HR I had legal proceedings against this person for ongoing harassment and I’m having nothing to do with them. You don’t have to explain in detail.

  33. tw1968*

    I would hope that the higher ups at that company will see the restraining order and warning as an indicator that MAYBE bully’s parent won’t be the good fit they thought, considering this new information.

  34. Veryanon*

    I don’t have anything else to add beyond what’s already been posted, but would only add that the behavior by the child would have to have been extremely egregious for a judge to issue a restraining order against a child. Jane clearly has some issues as well. I’m so sorry for the OP that she and her family is experiencing this.

  35. Trout 'Waver*

    Why go straight to HR? Before talking to HR, you should talk to your current director. Going straight to HR before talking to your boss in this situation seems odd to me.

    1. Llama Identity Thief*

      I don’t know that I’d agree. This is clearly somewhere in the realm of personnel issues, so HR would be the group more well-trained in order to resolve this cleanly. HR also probably has more options than “just fire her,” such as a transfer, and as much as I have no sympathy for Jane whatsoever, “just fire her” could easily lead to Jane returning fire outside of the work world to LW’s family, which is probably the biggest thing to avoid in this scenario when emotional wounds are trying to heal. It’d definitely be right to loop in your boss at some point early-ish in this process, but this is more of an HR-style issue, and HR has the much stronger tools to deal with this situation in a positive way for LW.

      1. Trout 'Waver*

        HR’s fundamental role is to deal with the situation in a positive way for the company. They’re not on the LW’s side. They’re on the company’s side. Those two sides aren’t necessarily opposed to each other, but they’re not necessarily aligned either.

        I think the director that just promoted LW is more likely to be a strong and vocal advocate for them than HR.

        1. Llama Identity Thief*

          That’s a reasonable point, so maybe loop them in simultaneously?

          You’re right that the two sides are not necessarily aligned. I’d argue that here they’d be heavily aligned, as there is already a clear legal record of who is in the right for the company to glom on to…but sometimes unreasonable people work in HR.

          But fundamentally, the big fear I have with going to LW’s boss first and not HR at the same time is that if boss’s only solution is “then she’s fired,” and then she’s immediately fired, that Jane & family immediately blame LW and renew the attacks. It’d probably be relatively easy compared to other legal actions to get a further restraining order on them, but that’s still a lot of trauma that would open up in the interim. The problem is that when you have such an open and shut case on the facts, sometimes the “strong and vocal advocate” is the one most possible to get carried away and make the situation worse.

          That scenario is, at least in my mental calculation, the second biggest mixture of risk and actual impact that exists in how this plays out, and is a bigger mixture than the “go straight to HR” route. That’s why I’m pushing back so hard against going to boss first and not HR at the same time.

          1. Margaret Cavendish*

            I would also consider the time factor – I really think OP needs to deal with this as soon as possible. Going to the director first and then HR (or vice versa) will take more time – that doesn’t always matter, but in this case I think it matters very much. The faster OP can get this resolved, the better for everyone.

    2. Ginger Cat Lady*

      Not to me. There are legal issues and considerations your immediate director might not even think to consider. HR should be up on that and is 100% the best place to take this issue.

    3. HonorBox*

      It might make sense to include the director/supervisor, but have them included in the conversation with HR, not beforehand. This is definitely an HR issue. Including the director might help in the conversation about what to do with Jane, and also informing them of the situation in case HR is going to suggest a reporting structure change.

    4. I should really pick a name*

      While I don’t see a problem with going to the boss, HR is required here. This isn’t the kind of thing an average manager has been trained to deal with.

      1. Fleur-de-Lis*

        Speaking as a manager, if one of my team members brought this to me, I’d be calling HR before doing anything more.

        1. Trout 'Waver*

          Ditto, but I’d also prefer the employee let me know what’s going on before I have HR calling me. Because HR’s first call is probably going to be to me.

          1. MsM*

            Does Jane’s role involve a lot of direct interfacing with OP’s boss? If not, I don’t really see why they need more than an “FYI, this is the situation, and this is how we handled it” once it’s been handled. Jane’s OP’s report, and the issue is between OP and Jane. No need to drag in more people than necessary.

      2. Always Bring Pickles to a Potluck*

        Yes. This is a go to your manager, tell them the situation and that you’re going to HR to see how it should be dealt with. This is not her manager’s problem to solve but they absolutely need to be kept in the loop.

    5. Dust Bunny*

      No, go to HR. You don’t have to go in ranting and raving, but they should know.

      1. Trout 'Waver*

        I think that having your director call HR on your behalf can be more helpful than calling them yourself.

        1. Disgruntled Pelican*

          Why? OP is the one confronting extremely high stakes and potentially legal issues. OP’s boss can’t actually add much of value here (maybe in other scenarios, but not this one).

          1. Trout 'Waver*

            1. OP is new to management.
            2. Chain of command – bosses generally like to know the issues their reports are dealing with.
            3. OP’s boss is probably much more politically connected and knows which HR person to talk to.
            4. OP’s boss is presumably on their side since they just promoted OP.
            5. OP’s boss has more organizational context than OP.

            1. GrooveBat*

              6. OP’s boss might have been involved in the decision to hire Jane.

              I don’t think it matters which order OP does this in, but if it were me, I would let my boss know

            2. Disgruntled Pelican*

              I’m not saying OP’s boss shouldn’t be looped in, I just disagree that we should assume that the boss has as much power and influence (or even training or experience) as you’re crediting them for. We’ve seen a lot of crappy bosses on this blog, and even an average boss is unlikely to be equipped to handle this beyond “HR, NOW!”

              1. Trout 'Waver*

                It’s mind boggling to be that people on this site assume all bosses are incompetent and all HR staff are great at their jobs. This has been FAR from my personal experience, and that of the people I’m close to.

                1. Lenora Rose*

                  This is a misinterpretation of what people are saying.

                  Yes, boss should hear about it, possibly even come with OP to HR to ensure she has someone likely to be in her corner, but HR is equipped with the *legal* info to know what they can do, and Boss is not, necessarily. People are replying based on the understanding of how those roles are meant to work in a business.

                  Of course, it’s possible the HR rep is sleeping with Jane and will try and twist things to punish OP (this has literally happened at least once in the memorable letters here) or otherwise be in desperate need of sacrocranial adjustment when it comes to handling interpersonal conflicts. But in general, assuming BOTH sides are competent, HR can do more about this exact situation than Boss can.

                2. Trout 'Waver*

                  nah. It’s a direct response to the post I quoted.

                  You’re also missing the point. Even if HR is better equipped to handle the problem, the first call they’re likely to make is to OP’s boss, the director. Speaking from experience here, OP’s director would much rather hear about this from OP directly than from HR for the first time.

                3. McThrill*

                  No one is assuming the boss is incompetent, but in a situation as serious as this the more people that it has to go through to get to the appropriate place to deal with employees having restraining orders against each other (which is HR) the more chance there is that the seriousness of the message will be diluted, or that it will take precious time to get to the ear of the one who needs to hear about it. She should absolutely tell her boss, but that’s in addition to telling HR, not as the primary way she should tell HR.

        2. fhqwhgads*

          This is a “get it dealt with in as few steps as possible” situation if ever there was one. If not going directly to HR, I’d say go directly to Legal, if there is such a department. Loop the director in concurrently if you deem it that important but really the people who understand the legal ramifications of this situation are the most important. Seriously, it’s bad this has been a thing long enough for anyone to notice their iciness with each other. It needed to be handled like the day after OP found out. Not blaming OP, people don’t always react perfectly and it’s a lot to deal with but this workplace is gonna desperately want a UNDO button on this hire, not find a way for them to work together.

          1. Zzzz*

            I think most companies with a Legal dept would also have HR and HR is almost certainly the correct dept between those two. My company’s Legal dept deals with patents, providing guidance on industry regulatory requirements, and contract terms with our clients. They definitely don’t have interest or expertise in managerial responsibilities.

        3. Middle of HR*

          Honestly, from an HR perspective, my first call isn’t going to be the OP’s boss, it’s going to be my boss and our legal counsel. I’ve never had this exact thing happen but I’ve dealt with legal issues, and we have to review and verify OP’s documentation, and determine the company’s legal and ethical obligations, which doesn’t require that boss’ input. OP’s boss would be contacted after we’ve settled on what likely next steps are.

    6. Affine Transform*

      She needs to talk to both, pretty immediately. I would set up a meeting with both and touch base individually to give a brief head’s up that this is an important issue involving Jane. HR would probably loop in management anyway, and vice versa.

    7. learnedthehardway*

      Disagreeing. The OP’s manager isn’t likely to be as familiar with HR regulation and company HR policies as the HR Manager. Honestly, I would bring this up as far as possible within the HR hierarchy – this situation is at least Director HR level territory.

    8. My Cat’s Human*

      I think going to your supervisor first risks Jane catching wind of it…giving her a chance to get to HR first….while you’re then potentially stuck following whatever process your supervisor suggests.

      1. yala*

        It’s dicey. On one hand, managers tend to want to be looped in, especially for something major like this, and some could get really upset about not being brought in early.

        On the other hand, yeah, you want it to go to as few people as possible, because it needs to get settled, not spread, and you definitely don’t want Jane to get out in front of it.

        Maybe let the manager know before you go? Like as in, right before you go, letting them know that you need to speak to HR, it involves some personal life legal details you’re not sure about sharing just yet, …I dunno. That sounds bad too. But I feel like not looping them in could make its own kind of trouble.

        1. yala*

          eta: probably best to just bring the boss to the HR meeting and let them both know at the same time.

    9. MCMonkeyBean*

      This is the clearest “go straight to HR” situation I have ever seen, I don’t know how you could possibly proceed without involving them.

  36. Pastor Petty Labelle*

    LW you need to go to HR immediately. You are already treating Jane differently. By only communicating with her in writing and as necessary. That is not the mark of a good manager.

    I understand your history with Jane, but you absolutely cannot let it affect YOUR professional reputation. You don’t want a demotion. Freezing out a report is a good way to get demoted. You might think its unfair because of how Jane treated your family, but all the company knows RIGHT NOW is you are freezing out one of your reports when you just started. Your company needs the context so they can resolve this situation in a way that YOU are not further harmed by this family. Don’t shoot yourself in the foot because of the history. You have to be completely aboveboard and transparent.

    1. Aggretsuko*

      And yet it’s probably a good idea for OP to have as little contact with Jane and all of it documented as much as possible under the circumstances. They are not just going to be able to have an open and honest chat about Jane’s career goals or performance under the circumstances.

  37. HonorBox*

    OP, I’m sorry for what your son and your family have gone through. I totally agree with the advice to go straight to HR, maybe looping in your boss at the same time, and DO NOT include Jane.

    I know Jane wasn’t included in the restraining order, but was issued a reprimand by the judge. BUT, I’m wondering if your lawyer might have some advice too. While she’s not directly included in the order, does this complicate things legally for either side?

  38. Vice Principal Jessica Day*

    I am aware this is not the specific point of the question, but I am confused. OP said their family moved to the other side of the country. But now they work with Jane? Is Jane remote? Did Jane’s family ALSO move across country to the same place as OP and their family? Because that would be a truly wild and unfortunate coincidence. I hope you and your family find peace and this situation is resolved soon, OP.

    1. Silver Robin*

      County, not country. Lots of folks have misread (easy mistake to make). Not a big surprise to see Jane in the same workplace.

    2. Lady_Lessa*

      I think that you are having the same reading challenge that a lot of us (including myself) are. It’s “county” not “country”.

      In my section of Ohio, 1 hour North South and I can be in the same county. East West, the same travel time means that I pass through 4 counties.

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        I’m in NE OH and used to date a guy in Central OH 110 miles away. On my drive from my place to his, I passed through six counties, his being the 7th. So yeah, it makes much more sense and not a big surprise at all.

    3. Peanut Hamper*

      County, not country.

      If you’re not from the US, counties are smaller divisions of a state, ranging from 30-40 km (I think?) across on average, although some are smaller and some are much larger, especially out west.

      1. Dust Bunny*

        Yeah, I’m in Big County territory but I’ve certainly been places that have smaller counties, and if there aren’t that many employers in a given industry within a county it would not be that odd for two people from far-flung sides of a county to end up working at the same place.

    4. Vice Principal Jessica Day*

      aha! I did indeed misread County as Country and was thus wildly confused! This makes more sense, I was like I think Jane and her family might be stalking OP! (If they moved cross country, but they didn’t!)

      1. Jessica*

        D’oh, same! I was really confused about how Jane was working in the same office with the LW when the LW’s family picked up and moved across the country.

        1. AnonORama*

          Yeah, me too! But, county makes sense because it was probably imperative to get into a different school district.

  39. Always Bring Pickles to a Potluck*

    Absolutely go to HR as soon as possible.

    However, as long as you are still her manager (which hopefully will not be very long) cover your butt with her. Communicate with her by email as much as possible. Get a trusted fellow manager to read emails before you send them. If you have to speak to her in person have your manager or one of your peers join you as a witness to make sure you are treating her fairly.

  40. Michelle Smith*

    Please update us when you have a resolution OP. I’m going to be worried about you until I hear that it’s resolved. This is awful, awful, awful, and I’m so sorry.

  41. Lobsterman*

    Wait this kid’s mom followed you across the country? Or county? Those are different things.

    Anyways, it’s lawyer time. Jane’s gotta go or OP does, and a lawyer will help make sure it’s Jane.

    1. Redaktorin*

      No, it sounds more like Jane also realized it was time to move and start over, but accidentally did so with the same city/company as the OP. 100% believable if this is one of the larger employers in the state. (It was the county, not the country.)

      1. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

        I can imagine Jane taking a job there and not moving at all. She might not mind the commute. Or was going to move after starting the job.

        1. ScruffyInternHerder*

          FWIW, I don’t live in either a tiny-county or a big-county state, and I live and work in separate counties. My commute is under 20 road miles.

      2. Annie E. Mouse*

        Depending on where they are, Jane may not have moved at all. I could move to the opposite side of my county and be in a different set of schools, but only actually be 30 minutes away. It certainly wouldn’t mean I’d have to change employers or even have a meaningful impact on commute unless I’d previously been working right in my neighborhood.

  42. Llama Identity Thief*

    LW, the advice here from the vast majority of the commentariat is already rock solid. I’d especially like to take a moment to praise how well you’ve dealt with the scenario so far while paralyzed whether it should go to HR. The coldness is clearly not ideal for a manager, but it really reads like a two-way street so hopefully it won’t come off poorly on you, and given the situation I’d argue the majority of people, including myself, would have done something a lot more “abuse of managerial discretion” by this point.

    It sounds like your boss, or alternately whoever got you your promotion, is someone who will advocate for you, so on top of looping in HR loop them in as well (thank you @Trout Waver for bringing me around on this). This way, you know you have one person in the room who can vouch for your character beyond the whole “I have a super clear no questions record of my history with Jane, and why this is more than just personal drama” part.

    Best of luck. I’m hoping you’re able to move forwards and find a solution with as little re-traumatization as possible. Keep your family and your own emotional health in the forefront, and move with the calm, poise, and judgment that you’ve already displayed in earning your promotion.

    1. HonorBox*

      And not only will the boss be able to vouch for OP, it is likely that they’ll be able to remind HR of the timing of the hiring. I could see HR asking “why didn’t this come up in the hiring process” and the boss can easily remind them of the fact that Jane was hired to the team before OP was promoted. Not that I expect a major issue from HR, but any third-party help could certainly benefit this situation and a solid resolution.

  43. kanada*

    > For that matter, with knowing the back story, it’s going to reflect badly on you as a manager, because you really can’t do that. From the company’s standpoint, part of the job you’ve been hired to do is to be a fair and effective manager to everyone you supervise, regardless of how you feel about them personally and even if you dislike them for deeply justified reasons.

    can’t disagree with this strongly enough. This isn’t “old roommate I had a falling out with”, this is “her child almost killed my child and I had to take her to court to get it resolved”. professional norms be damned.

    1. Llama Identity Thief*

      You can personally disagree with this as much as possible. A part of me is also very “professional norms be damned” here. But the point needs to be doing what results in the least possible pain for the LW, not what feels the most righteous, and management COULD react with “we have the policy for the reason”/”this is an outside-the-work manner”/any which way if she doesn’t go about this the calm, measured way. It simply isn’t worth the risk, no matter how miniscule or how morally justified.

      1. kanada*

        If I were OP’s manager and I found out all they had done in this situation was ice their report out, I’d be impressed by their restraint, as would anyone with an ounce of human concern.

        1. Kevin Sours*

          You can’t have a manager acting like that to a subordinate full stop. It’s toxic and dysfunctional. It’s one thing to extend understanding to OP dealing with a difficult situation as best she can while reaching out for help to resolve it. But I would sharply question the judgement of a manager who did not realize the situation was untenable and declined to reach out for help.

          1. fhqwhgads*

            That’s ignoring the context here. You can’t have this manager managing this employee AT ALL. It might look toxic manager behavior from the outside, and it would be toxic if the manager were doing it because she felt like it, but given the circumstances, minimizing their interactions and having it all in writing is a good thing, in context. Because really both of them need to be extricated from this situation. The barely talking isn’t a manager judgement choice; it’s an “active legal proceedings” choice.

            1. Bunny Lake Is Found*

              But choosing not to do anything about it other than icing out WOULD be a manager judgement choice. LW needs to get out of this situation because her entire management career should not be tainted by something horrible that happened to her and her child. Nor should the extent of LW’s son’s trauma and pain have to basically become “common knowledge” at LW’s office in order to ensure that LW isn’t penalized by people thinking she is a toxic manager.

        2. Lenora Rose*

          True… and yet I ALSO would not want that employee managed by someone who was icing them out, even if I thought the icing was justified. it would definitely be time to move the employee on to another department/building/anywhere else.

        3. Bunny Lake Is Found*

          See, I would be very frustrated with that manager and question their judgement for taking no steps to resolve a toxic dynamic on their team. I would question what this behavior looked like to the rest of the team they were managing, what it looked like to other teams? Sorry, this is not like Jane and LW are assigned to a discrete project where “suck it up, ice her out, it is only for 3 weeks” might be the least painful way to handle the situation.

    2. Aggretsuko*

      “Almost lost my child” could mean the child tried to commit suicide :( It may not be a potential murder situation.

    3. popko*

      No, Allison is right here. The LW’s behavior is 100% totally sympathetic and understandable for all of the reasons you said… but it is still bad management, which is why the LW needs to talk to HR so that she is no longer responsible for managing this person. I expect she’ll be extended a lot of grace for needing time to process a highly-emotional situation before making that move– I certainly would extend that grace!– but the longer she goes without making what is really the only correct move to make here, the worse it reflects.

      1. Colette*

        And it’s not just bad to her management, it’s bad to her employees, who will see her freezing out their colleague without any reason. (There is a reason! But it doesn’t look that way to bystanders.)

      2. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

        Exactly. The best option is to recognize that this is an untenable situation and to arrange things so that the OP is no longer managing Jane. At a minimum.

    4. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

      Fair or not, treating a subordinate poorly – even in this situation – isn’t a good look. I’m not saying that the OP has to be friendly and super warm. But being cruel or unfair to Jane isn’t going to reflect well. Managers aren’t supposed to manage based on their personal feelings. That’s why the best resolution involves the OP never having to deal with Jane again.

    5. Katherine*

      True story: I once worked in a small grocery store in Georgia, one of the states with the least worker protections in the country. The produce manager dangled some lichee nuts in front of the general manager’s pre-teen daughter and said “wanna feel my nuts?”. Daughter told the general manager who fired him on the spot, in front of customers. She was then promptly fired for violating company policy and for unprofessional.
      Primal feelings are deeply involved when it comes to our children and at the same time those strong feelings aren’t really effective in the work place. An appropriate choice for this GM would have been to call her supervisor and let them handle the situation since they were not personally impacted. Was her behavioral understandable? Absolutely. Was it appropriate workplace behavior? No. And I’m sure losing her job had negative impacts on her family.
      The produce manager committed suicide shortly afterwards, which I think could have opened the company to liability but as far as I know there was no civil suit or anything.

      1. Aglet*

        The firing was appropriate workplace behavior no matter who the produce manager said it to. You can’t have someone saying that in a workplace, and especially not someone who works with the public, and especially not saying it to a child.

        1. Boof*

          I think the question was not the firing, but how it was done? Like maybe they should have been told that was inappropriate and to leave the floor, and then fired in private?
          I agree in general it sounds like the produce manager should have been fired and GM shouldn’t have, unless I guess GM made some extremely redic scene and/or had other issues and it was a last straw kind of thing.

    6. Boof*

      If LW attempts to manage the OP frostily and not tell anyone about this major problem, that would reflect badly on OP, yes. And there’s no way to expect OP to manage Jane “warmly” or treat Jane as if somehow the past never happened. OP has every right to factor in their prior experience with Jane as a manager and that experience should say “I cannot manage Jane. Here is why. If jane has been a good employee for you can you please transfer her” etc

  44. Kimberly*

    I was your kid as far as the bullying goes. My parents had to threaten criminal charges against the bully, his parents, the school administration, and a Title IX lawsuit to make school safe for me.

    Go to HR with all the paperwork from the court case. The fact you were nearly given a restraining order against her and have one against the child is an important fact. She needs to leave.

    Also, take all that paperwork to the school and any summer programs. Especially the restraining order. You don’t want to start school next year and find out Timmy has enrolled in the school.

  45. Lizzianna*

    I agree with others that HR needs to be in the loop.

    Think about it this way – if Lisa does something that needs a response, whether it be a serious conversation, a PIP, or worse, is she going to be able to minimize it by claiming that you’re “overreacting” because of your history? Even if you take the exact right action, she may be able to use this to undermine you. It’s not just about protecting Lisa (because depending on her involvement, you may not feel the need to protect her, and that would be justified), but also, if she’s the kind of person who would participate in a child’s bullying, there’s a chance she’ll cross the line at work too, and you want the organization to be well positioned to deal with that swiftly.

  46. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

    One small bit of additional advice -decide which details you want to tell HR before you go to them. Otherwise there’s a good chance you’ll end up pouring out the whole story to the sympathetic listing ear and feel totally embarrassed afterwards.

    1. Llama Identity Thief*

      +Arbitrarily Large Number

      Make this a part of gathering your records to present to HR. Make sure you only include details that you feel are relevant to the conversation at hand – probably as little as you need to establish the grounds on your son and Timmy, and focused heavily on the direct warning Jane provided. And as part of those details, include some level of “where you need things to go from here, and where you would like them to go specifically.”

      Going to piggy-back to also say, with regards to where things go from here, that actively pushing (at least lightly) for Jane to be transferred instead of fired both a) would show an incredible amount of professionalism and b) drastically decreases any chances of Jane doing a retaliation outside of work. I understand pushing for a kinder result for Jane may be far outside your emotional bandwidth right now, but if you find that manageable, I think it would be very good both for your career and for keeping your family safe.

    2. Oatmeal*

      YES! This is a great idea. There are some things they may not need to know and that you would like to remain private.

    3. Mac (I Wish All The Floors Were Lava)*

      @Elspeth this is absolutely stellar advice, and I just want to thank you so much for saying it. I’ve had to deal with stalking/harassment situations in the workplace before, and I definitely look back and wish I could’ve –just for my own sake– been more intentional about how much I shared with HR/bosses in those situations. Even if they are perfectly nice and understanding, there can be a lingering feeling afterwards of embarrassment at having been so vulnerable to someone you have a professional relationship with. Keeping some of your emotions private, at least until it’s not as fresh, can really help make the situation more survivable.

  47. Observer*

    At a certain point in the last year, she behaved just about as badly as her child did, and the judge considered including her in the restraining order, but was instead issued a warning on the record

    OP, this is terrible. The court record is going to be your friend here. Especially this piece. Because, with this on the record, it’s not going to be something that reasonable people are going to be able to try to play off as you “over reacting” or “unfortunate disagreements.”

    I hate to say this, though. You may need to start looking for a new job. You should not NEED to. It’s unfair if you do. But unless your skills are seen to be much more valuable or hard to replace than Jane’s or you have a significant amount of capital, you could be stuck with her. And it sounds like a hugely unhealthy situation for you. On the professional front, it could also damage you, because as Alison says it’s affecting your management of Jane, which could eventually harm your reputation. Getting out of the situation before that happens would definitely be better for you than that.

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

      Well it sounds like the OP does have more capital because she has been there longer. She got promoted to this positon where Jane was just hired.

      If I was OP tomorrow morning I would go straight to HR and explain that I didn’t know how this would work and apologize for not coming sooner.

      1. Observer*

        Hopefully you are correct about the capital, but it’s not entirely clear. But I do think that if the OP takes your tack, it will be a positive.

    2. Capt. Liam Shaw*

      I agree with everything Observer just wrote. It sucks if you may have to find a new job though.

    3. Wait but*

      The LW should also immediately be talking to her lawyer. Jane can try out “it was absolutely a coincidence that I applied for and took a job at LW’s workplace” on the judge. Judges aren’t big believers in coincidence.

      I suspect Jane knew damn well what she was doing. She just didn’t expect LW to be her manager instead of a co-worker she could bully further.

  48. wtaf machine*

    I work with restraining orders as part of my job. I would recommend having an attorney or a victim advocate review the order again because there may very well be a violation occurring the legal jargon can get tough (I am thinking one relating to third party contact-which is the easiest to violate). That said, I hope we get a great update from OP soon…especially with how well them and their child is doing and thriving now. Being a victim of bullying can really destroy a family and it sounds like you have a lovely supportive family. All my best to you.

  49. Betsy S*

    Elspeth is right – and others have said similarly – keep it very simple, tell HR the bare outline.
    They will recognize that this is an untenable situation and that they have to move one of you.

    Think ahead to what would be the best win-win outcome. Jane is a recent hire – are you aware of any positions where she might fit, that you might suggest? And I hear you that you don’t want to change positions, but can you think of a good plan B?

    Meanwhile, do not give Jane *any* ammunition. DO speak to her in the same way you speak to the rest of the team. Be scrupulously fair. Give her credit where credit is due. If you’ve been cold to her this month, maybe even find a way to mention her work or thank her in an email.

    Good luck and hang in there, this situation will hopefully be temporary

  50. Garlic Microwaver*

    Ugh. I worry about a crappy outcome either way. If the company does not have the capital/infrastructure/ability/whatever to move Jane to another team, then what? OP is forced out basically, or forced to manage this person? While unfair on a personal level, there will be no “firing” of Jane. Major lawsuit territory if the company fires Jane on the grounds of, “being a horrible person outside of work.” Kind of wish we had more details about the company/team structure, but I do suspect there will be a quick update to this one.

    1. Llama Identity Thief*

      To quote Alison above:

      “In the US (except for Montana) this isn’t correct. It’s not illegal to fire someone for events outside of work, as long as those events aren’t specifically protected behavior (which this is not). That doesn’t mean the OP’s company will fire Jane, but there’s some incorrect legal info being tossed around here.”

      1. Garlic Microwaver*

        Ah, thanks for clarifying. I guess, then, if they had performed a background check on Jane, the formal written warning she was issued would not have come up? Curious…

        1. Llama Identity Thief*

          To quote The Meat Embezzler above:

          “Restraining orders will usually not show up on a criminal background check as Jane has not broken any laws. The chances of this showing up under a typical internet search are also slim due to both children being minors.”

          So being formally warned is even less likely to come up than the restraining order itself.

    2. Observer*

      While unfair on a personal level, there will be no “firing” of Jane. Major lawsuit territory if the company fires Jane on the grounds of, “being a horrible person outside of work.

      Absolutely incorrect. We don’t know what the company will do, but in the US, there is absolutely no protection for people just because their behavior was “outside of work.”

      1. AnonORama*

        People get fired for posting selfies on socia media where they’re holding a can of beer at a cookout on their day off. So yeah, you can definitely get fired for behavior outside of work. And this is light-years from that kind of harmless out-of-the-office behavior.

    3. WellRed*

      Uh, what grounds would Jane have for suing? It’s unfair to discriminate me because my family member has an RTO against them is not a protected class. Simply, the company could say it’s a conflict interest. Or that they hate the way jane dresses in yellow ever day.

    4. Irish Teacher*

      I think this is more than “being a horrible person outside of work.” This isn’t a case of trolling online or something. This is harrassing a child to the point that legal action was considered. I am no legal expert, even for Ireland, let alone anywhere else and I may be biased due to being a teacher where obviously, being a danger to children is significant, but I would imagine many companies would prefer not to have somebody so volatile that they act out on children, working for them. I think many people would assume that if she would do this to a child, the odds are even higher of her behaving in a similar way to coworkers if they annoy her, since most people tend to be kinder to children than other adults.

      I just googled and it seems that in Ireland, where employment protections are usually higher than I think they are in the US, this would fall into a grey area. What I am reading says that an employee harrassing another outside work would probably justify disciplinary activity. Given that this is harrassment of the employee’s child and happened before they worked together, it might be a little more grey.

  51. Oatmeal*

    What a nightmare, OP. So sorry your family is going through (and has gone through) all this. The only things I would add to the excellent advice about going to HR are: (1) don’t just “offer” to show them the court papers, give them to HR without waiting to be asked. Include not just the restraining order but, as others have said, the transcripts or wherever the judge warned the parents. And really, any other papers/transcripts/testimony that shows the situation your child and family have endured. (2) Put everything in writing to HR. Go talk to them too, but ALSO put it all in writing, and print out or send yourself a copy of everything (to your personal email address) every time you send HR an email about this. Don’t use a way of communicating that disappears immediately; you want it crystal clear what you told them and when. Talk to your lawyer about how to phrase things if you are unsure or feeling too emotional (understandable!) to make sure it’s phrased in a neutral way, since email can sometimes come off as aggressive when you don’t mean it to be. Putting everything in writing helps avoid “she said, they said” situations down the road. I’m not assuming this will go badly, not at all — just thinking about what might help if there’s any confusion later. I would also inform your boss as well as HR, but tell HR first. Best of luck to you, warm wishes winging your way and your family’s.

  52. Raven Mistress*

    By all means let HR know ASAP – and bring copies of the restraining order AND the warning to Jane along with you when you meet with them; it’ll have greater impact than if you simply tell HR that you have those documents and offer to bring them in. While you’re at it, make copies to GIVE to HR – even if they read your original copies over, it’s easy for memories to fade over time; if they have the hard copies themselves, they can put those in Jane’s personnel file…for all time!

    And if I were in charge of HR, I’d think very, very carefully about continuing to employ someone like Jane, let alone promoting her. The fact that she received a formal warning to leave the OP and her child alone would suggest to me that she not only condoned her son’s behavior, she might even have been egging him on and letting him know that she not-s0-secretly approved of everything he was doing. That’s not the kind of person I’d want anywhere near anywhere I worked!

  53. learnedthehardway*

    In addition to everyone’s good advice, OP, please do NOT feel like you are failing your child by continuing to work for your employer. You are NOT doing that. You have found yourself in a very difficult situation at work, through NO fault of your own, and are doing the best you can with it.

    Finding a way to do and keep your current job, and to ensure that you do not manage Jane is entirely legitimate. You need to support your family and manage your career. Doing this by fighting for sanity in your job, keeping your promotion, and getting Jane out of your department IS sticking up for your child and your family.

  54. Choggy*

    Definitely get ahead of this with HR before any more time has passed. They need to know the situation and work with everyone to get this resolved as soon as possible.

    1. sofar*

      Yeah, I’m reading this like “Why hasn’t LW told HR yet???” I’d have reached out to HR with “URGENT” in the email header like 2 seconds after that initial team meeting, if not DURING the meeting. Jane seems terrible, and I’d want to get in there before she spins up her own “side” of the story.

  55. Story&Clark*

    OP, just a note of support for all you’ve been through and then the cruel twist of fate at your new job. I hope this resolves for you sooner rather than later and that you can settle in and enjoy your fresh start with your family. You sound like an amazing parent and I totally respect your efforts on behalf of your child! This is what matters.

  56. Jake*

    The world spins in such a weird way.

    OP needs to notify HR immediately, no doubt. OP has been managing this person for days/weeks at this point, and every single day that passes raises the question of, “why did she wait so long to tell us?”

    1. GrooveBat*

      The simple answer to this is, “I wanted to get legal advice before disclosing this.”

      1. Bunny Lake Is Found*

        I would caution that if we have gone more than 3 weeks since LW realized she was going to be managing Jane, I think LW might still get pushback on why she waited. Mostly because I think HR would be concerned that something happened recently on the job that made LW think she had no choice but to tell HR.

  57. SB*

    How awful for you. You do need to see HR, today!! to discuss the background so they don’t find out from someone else. Hopefully Jane feels so ashamed by her past behaviour that she decides she can no longer face you every day & has the good grace to leave.

  58. JustMe*

    Until I saw the part about Jane’s behavior, my first thought was that her child’s behavior may have been wildly inappropriate but potentially resulting from mental illness/substance abuse and something that the parent is struggling to get under control in addition to dealing with the legal issues. OP would still go to HR, but I wouldn’t automatically assume anything about the parent of the bully–sometimes, perfectly normal, good parents have children with serious issues and those children may hurt other people. I’d be somewhat inclined to think that in an instance like that, HR would need to be made aware but Jane and OP could *potentially* find a way to work together. (Like, “Hey, we both know Timmy has issues and is in rehab/counseling/an institution and we’ve just agreed not to talk about it because we’re all dealing with the repercussions of what Timmy has done.”)

    Knowing that Jane definitely seems to have been part of the issue and that legal action was almost taken against her (!) makes me think that it’s not possible to move past this and that you need to be separated. I’m so sorry you and your family are going through this.

  59. Calyx*

    This is such a thorny matter that I would recommend you consult your own lawyer to advise you. It could be behind the scenes, but you need someone who is looking out for your interests here.

  60. Looper*

    I’m so sorry this is happening to you. I would talk to HR but also your lawyer. Maybe I’m paranoid, but I find it very hard to believe this is coincidence. Get that restraining order expanded and get her butt out of your office and your life if possible. Sounds like the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, she deserves what she gets.

    1. Looper*

      I just realized I misread county as country, so less alarming than I first thought but still awful!

  61. The Shenanigans*

    I’m so sorry. But I agree with the “tell HR” people. I also think you need to tell them specifically about Jane’s involvement in all of the bullying, as factually as possible. e.g., “Her son did x y z that led to a restraining order. Jane did a b c which led the judge to warn her on record.”

    Stress your child is blameless because too many people think that the bullied kid must have done something or that if they defended themselves, it’s as bad as the bullying. Any competent HR department will make sure Jane is managed by someone else and not demote you in the process. They will also keep an eye on Jane, so when she starts acting like a bully at work, it won’t be a long time before she gets fired for it. And yes, I think it will be a when. Kids learn that cruelty somewhere, and you’ve already said she’s shown it herself.

    I know it sounds harsh, but the company needs to know about all this because it’s a legal liability for them. So let’s hope the problem takes care of itself soon.

  62. Zarniwoop*

    Gonna be harder going to HR now than if you had right away, which sucks. Probably best (and truthful) to tell them you were just so stunned you were unable to deal. Given the court cases, restraining orders, and having to move, I think that will be understandable.

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

      especially if the OP has also talked to her lawyer about this. I think the OP might want to loop them in anyways because as others have stated it there could be something nefarious going on with the other mother.

  63. Manglement Survivor*

    Go to HR and disclose this as fast as you can, before she goes. Maybe bring a copy of the restraining order and any other pertinent information to them? Hopefully they will move her to another unit or department.

  64. MadDog*

    OP, I am so sorry for what you and your family has been going through. It is beyond horrible and my hope is that you all can continue to heal moving forward. I also completely understand why this situation is so shocking and difficult and agree with the advice to go to HR.

    I do have a more general question about one part of Alison’s advice that has also been echoed somewhat in the comments. Specifically, there seems to be this suggestion that a possible outcome of talking to HR would be that OP might actually have to continue to manage this person. Now, I’ve spent most of my working life as a lawyer (though not in employment law), so that may color how I see this. But I genuinely find it baffling that such an outcome might be possible in a non-dysfunctional environment.

    To me, this situation is such a huge conflict of interest that I’d start with the presumption that there is virtually no way that OP could be expected to treat her employee fairly. This is not a dig at OP. People have emotions and there are just some times when it is not reasonable to think that people can just put those emotions to one side. Nearly losing your child, having to relocate unwillingly, and then being asked to manage someone who contributed to that (and pretty directly) is one of those times, in my view. Put another way, I’d think you would need to be nearly otherworldly or superhuman to be able to manage this person fairly if you were in OP’s shoes. I’d also be curious whether the company would open itself up to liability if it were to insist upon maintaining that conflict of interest.

    But, as I said, lawyer. And lawyers have very particular ideas about conflicts of interest, etc. that are probably more rigid than exist out in the broader corporate world. I guess I’m just wondering why OP continuing to manage this person would be anything other than a nonstarter.

    Such a terrible situation. Definitely pulling for you OP!

    1. Cthulhu's Librarian*

      In a non dysfunctional environment, you’re correct that there is no way the OP would continue to manage this employee. Regretfully, many environments are dysfunctional.

    2. Bunny Lake Is Found*

      Also a lawyer. Yeah, I can not see a universe where LW managing Jane could continue and, unless Jane’s role and LW’s role are so specialized no one but someone in LW’s exact job could oversee Jane, having any other manager in any department (or whoever has LW’s role at another branch of the company manage Jane remotely) would be a better idea in the short term. Long term better solutions could be available, but we need to get off the train tracks before the train comes barreling into the situation.

  65. HearTwoFour*

    OP, please update us when you can. I truly hope that HR gives you all the support you need and deserve right now. I can’t imagine what it was like to see this vile woman at YOUR work. I’m so sorry!

  66. Oysters and Gender Freedoms*

    I agree you have to talk to HR and I also think there is no way you can be Jane’s manager. In other circumstances, like romantic partners or relatives, Alison talks about how its almost impossible to be objective and even harder to appear objective. What if you have to criticize Jane’s work, refuse her a promotion, or put her on a PIP? Its too fraught and there is too much risk of it spilling over to other employees. In discussing it with hr, I would ask what they would do if it turned out you were related. Don’t bring your feelings in on purpose — they will probably show, but just make the business case that this is not good for the company. Present yourself as someone who is trying to get out ahead of this problem but clearly there is no way it is appropriate for you to manage someone who has been embroiled in a legal situation with your family. Among other things, it’s not fair to Jane. (Not that you really care about that, but its just very clear and objective.)

  67. Oysters and Gender Freedoms*

    It looks like my previous comment didn’t go through, so I’ll give a shortened version. Tell HR. They would presumably do something if it turned out you two were sisters or if you started dating. This situation has the same problem that even if you could be objective, you could never avoid the perception that you aren’t objective.

      1. yala*

        oh my gosh.

        He’s so awful in the first letter and then he just gets actively WORSE! Like just, absolutely ZERO self-awareness, but full on “everyone’s so mean to me, well I hope you’re all happy, how dare people judge me for traumatizing someone because I viewed them like an NPC instead of a person with feelings.”

  68. Sue Wilson*

    OP: Unlike the other commenters I don’t like the coincidence. Restraining orders usually require that you update the whereabouts of your child in order for the other party to avoid them. If that’s the case here, Jane should have know about where you were, and yet…that is where she moved. I would update your job for these reasons alone.

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

      You know I never thought about that the restraining order would have been updated. However, depending on how big the county is it might not be that far and the bully’s mother might not have moved. I’m thinking of my home county, which is very rural. It’s only about 800 square miles and going from one side of the county to the other would only be a little over an hour. So I don’t think that just because the OP moved across the county that the bully’s mother followed them.

      1. Katherine*

        I’m in an urban east coast county and it’s 20 minutes across east/west and maybe 45 north south. Even though this is a fairly large city population-wise I tend to run into people in my professional circles fairly regularly; I work in mental health and it was really hard to find a therapist I didn’t have a pre-existing relationship with!

  69. Mmm.*

    Which kid gets to go if the company has family picnics or something? The one with the restraining order or the one with the order against them? I think that question may give HR pause before they jump on a response.

  70. Meghan*

    This is awful and hope we get an update, but like Allison said… You need to involve HR in this yesterday. The delay looks bad as you’re her manager, but you could possibly be forgiven as you got over your shock. But any further delay will look negligent. And I would start the conversation with an acknowledgement that you were in shock about this.

    And also, I notice you prefaced that you weren’t involved in hiring her nor did you know she would be offered a job. I wonder if you would have taken any different actions toward the promotion if you had known that she was working in that location. If you would have acted differently toward the promotion then I think you have your answer on if you can manage her unfortunately. Best of luck and really hoping to see you on an update or Friday Good News!

    1. Scandinavian Vacationer*

      AAAAND this is why it is best for managers/supervisors to hire their own team. Hire the manager FIRST, then let them hire their own people. Much agony could be avoided in the workplace by this simple rule.

      1. Belle of the Midwest*

        YES. Two years ago we had a director and a staff member leave at the same time and the managing director asked me what I thought about the order in which we should fill the vacancies–knowing it was the busiest time of all for staff. I said, “the director will already have two current staff members that they didn’t pick–let’s hire the director first and then let the director make the hiring decision for the vacant position.” So that’s what we did. Bonus is that he’s an amazing director who chose someone he knew from a previous role in another company and she’s blossomed in this role. We did it in the right order.

  71. M. from P.*

    Just occurred to me:

    OP, when you’re talking to HR about this, I wouldn’t say you cannot manage Jane. That seems to imply that YOU were not an appropriate manager for JANE.

    I would instead say that you could not have JANE on YOUR team.

    Maybe I’m overly pessimistic but I would preemptively make sure no-one is even thinking of making YOU bear the burden of this situation.

    Also, if you already have a lawyer you trust I’d call them now.

  72. Caroline*

    I echo the whole ”go to HR immediately” verdict. I would lead with ”there was a court case involving a situation regarding our respective families, and which included Jane personally, such that there was an official warning that stopped just short of a restraining order given to her regarding me.” Be clear that this isn’t ”I’m a petty tyrant who’s out to ruin Jane’s life to settle scores.” You can mention that relocation and medical support was required as a result of the situation that lasted over a long period of time, and that it is for this reason that you are unable to have Jane on your team – for her sake as well as yours – and what suggestions could they come up with to work around the matter?

    Do not. Not. Not. go into any sort of ”let’s all talk together” situation / mediation. There has been a court case. Do not be emotional at all, just explain that it’s unfortunately not workable as it is.

    Also. Jane is now experiencing consequences and is undoubtedly considering ways to turn it to her advantage. Do not allow this. You are clearly strong and tenacious!

    1. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

      Excellent point here about how mediation is not appropriate here. Mediation should not happen when there are allegations of abuse. (To be clear, I’m using this language to indicate that allegations of abuse are enough to make mediation inappropriate. I am absolutely NOT trying to imply that I don’t believe the LW!)

  73. DontU4getAboutMe*

    There is no advice I can give that hasn’t already been said (lawyer, HR, paper proof from the courts etc) but I do hope there’s a (positive) update from LW down the line.

  74. CountryLass*

    Another reason for the LW to go to HR, is that other people will have noticed the difference in how she is interacting with Jane vs the other reports, and may have decided Jane is the better one to approach. You don’t know what she is saying to them, but as someone who was almost added to a restraining order against her son for almost killing another child, you can bet your bottom dollar it is not going to be complimentary towards LW…

    LW needs to get the facts in front of HR asap, before the rest of the team go to them to repeat whatever she is saying.

    1. Fishsticks*

      Yep. If someone asks Jane about it I guarantee the answer isn’t “my child nearly drove hers to their death, so she’s not super cool with me”. At BEST, it’s going to be “Our kids didn’t get along and she took it SO personally”.

  75. Dances on Clouds*

    Alison, this one is for you: SHOULD the OP let others (besides HR) in their company (especially their reports) know what Jane did, and that Jane was given a formal, legal warning (presumably to stop harassing the OP?) This would take care of people unjustly accusing OP of being arbitrary in their dislike of Jane, but is it too much personal information to share at work? Alison, what would you advise in this case?

  76. Old Admin*

    Guys, consider the possibility that Jane (Timmy’s/bully’s mother) might not even be in contact with the family or the problem child anymore (think separation, divorce etc.)
    That could explain Jan’s reaction when facing the OP for thr first time.

    I said this to throw out a slightly more positive scenario, not to excuse Jane.

    This doesn’t change anything about what OP needs to do, in full agreement with Alison:

    Get your story in front of HR today.

    Make very clear the RO and the conflict of interest mandate that Jane be moved to another team.

    Talk to your lawyer about the situation.

  77. Old Admin*

    Guys, consider the possibility that Jane (Timmy’s/bully’s mother) might not even be in contact with the family or the problem child anymore (think separation, divorce etc.)
    That could explain Jan’s reaction when facing the OP for thr first time.

    I said this to throw out a slightly more positive scenario, not to excuse Jane.

    This doesn’t change anything about what OP needs to do, in fzull agreement with Alson:

    Get your story in front of HR today.

    Make very clear th RO and the conflict of interest mandate That Jane moved to another team.

    talk to your lawyer.

  78. HearTwoFour*

    Assuming Jane and her husband are still together, I really wonder how that conversation went, when they discussed it that evening?

  79. Kim*

    Please update us on the outcome after you talk to HR. What an awful situation . Best wishes to you and your family.

  80. Morgan Hazelwood*

    Agreeing with 90% of the above comments. You cannot effectively manage someone for whom you have a Restraining Order against their kid. Any negative feedback or perceived lack of advancement or opportunities is going to be filtered through the lens of “if we didn’t have this outside issue, that wouldn’t have happened.” It’s a lawsuit waiting to happen.

    I do agree that your manager should be looped in on these discussions with HR. Depending on your dynamic, I might let HR lead on when to loop my boss in, though.

    If I were your HR people, and Jane was a solid worker who I wanted to keep, my options would be:
    1 – Keep on your team, but reports to a different manager (maybe yours?) to avoid even the appearance of impropriety
    2 – Transfer Jane to a different team.

  81. I'm fabulous!*

    I’m wondering if Jane working directly with OP might be a violation of this restraining order. OP, be open with HR about all that is happening.

  82. Overit*

    OP — I just wanted to let you know that my heaet goes out to your son and your family.

  83. That wasn't me. . .*

    I was feeling kinda sorry for the Billy’s Mom, thinking maybe she us dealing with one of the out-of-control kids that’s just impossible to discipline. But got to the part where she was almost included in the restraining order! And they had to SELL THEIR HOUSE and move! This is analogous to having an abusive ex turn up on your staff. Definitely loop in HR. this is a time where employnent-at-will is a good thing; if company wants to keep OP (presumably, they do) they can tell this other lower-level (abusive bully-mom) new hire “So sorry, we thought this was going to work but it’s not. Good-bye!” before she gets entrenched. Give her some severance and let her start job-searching again. Now, not later!

  84. Tiger Snake*

    In order to give it the weight and gravitas that a restraining order warrants, and not have it seen that you’re bringing schoolyard disputes to the office, you might want to stop calling it ‘bullying’, and start calling it ‘harassment’.

    Or my personal favorite, systemic/ongoing harassment. After all, that is the distinction – is singular instance of unwelcome conduct is harassment. Repeated behaviour is bullying.

  85. NeedsToBeNoContact*

    I don’t think moving Jane to another team is sufficient. Unfortunately I don’t think they can work in the same physical location. Unless Jane is both moved to a different manager/team with no professional contact with OP and made 100% remote (and I mean really truly never at the office, not just remote most of the time) I don’t see how it can be workable.

Comments are closed.