update: how do I avoid “mom energy” with my younger employees?

It’s a special “where are you now?” season at Ask a Manager and I’m running updates from people who had their letters here answered in the past.

Remember the letter-writer asking how to avoid “mom energy” with her younger employees after one called her “mom”? Here’s the update.

I have an update. Buckle up.

After the post, I took my concerns to HR, and we agreed to draw up a document with the exact steps that Annie needed to take when she was out of office, outline the consequences, and ask her to sign that she’d read and understood them. As well, I told Annie that I would no longer be reminding her of anything via chat, and instead she should expect consequences should the appropriate steps not be taken when she’s OOO. So far so good. After my meeting with Annie, I sent the document over via email and asked her to have it back to me by the next Wednesday.

She missed the deadline, so I put an appointment with me and our HR person on her calendar. Immediately she called me to ask why; when I said it was because she’d missed the deadline, she told me, “I only read the document. I didn’t read your email. Everyone in this company communicates via chat, you can’t expect me to read emails.”

Insert mind-blown emoji here.

As a result, we gave her an official warning during the HR meeting. She found that exceedingly unfair. In her view, any time I’d asked her to stop doing anything, she’d immediately stopped and never done that same thing ever again. Also, it wasn’t fair that I hadn’t told her about the warning when she’d called me. She then was trying to rules-lawyer the document because one part I had outlined wasn’t in her contract or the employee guide – HR had to tell her that as her boss, I was also allowed to request her to do things not specifically written down somewhere else.

She found all this so unfair that she set up an individual meeting with every manager-level member of our team and at least one of her peers, and tried to talk to the CEO, to the facilitator who had been at the original workshop, and to my boss – all this after we had explicitly told her that the way to appeal was through HR. The CEO, who was on her way to a meeting, declined – and Annie popped back with “Well of course you don’t have time for me.” The facilitator contacted me to ask what was going on, because they had the feeling that Annie was trying to manipulate them.

A few hours before our regular one-on-one the next week, right after my boss had called in sick and canceled the meeting she’d put on his calendar that morning, she told me she was not in a mental state to talk to me and that she would not be attending. When I offered to move the meeting, she said she would just wait for the next one. I told her I hadn’t offered skipping as an option. Annie promptly called in sick for a week and a half.

When she came back, it was with a letter from her lawyer demanding that we retract the warning. Aside from accusations about retaliation on my part and saying that she’d been forced to sign the document, she also doubled down on it being unreasonable to expect her to read emails – in her version, I was laying a trap by sending the document via email.

Rather than spending time and money on lawyers, we offered to accept her resignation with some severance pay, which she’s agreed to. Hopefully that’s the end of the saga.

P.S. Here’s the script I used to respond to the mom thing as part of this:

Thank you for your openness last time we talked.

I did want to follow up with you on one piece of what you said — the ‘mom thing.’ You’re not a child, you are a capable adult professional; and what I am doing is managing you, not parenting you.

Framing it that way undermines you, it sounds like you don’t understand the difference between a manager who is setting expectations and a parent who is scolding you. It also plays into harmful stereotypes about women and authority – a woman isn’t recognized as an authority, a leader, a manager – instead she gets called a “mom”, and that doesn’t happen to men. I know you didn’t intend it that way and didn’t realize how it came across, so I wanted to flag it for you.

{ 476 comments… read them below }

    1. NotBatman*

      I agree… but then I reread the first letter, and Annie’s red flags feel obvious in hindsight.

      1. duinath*

        waving them around like she was trying to land a plane, tbh. i hope the saga ends here and op is well rid of her. (though i can’t help but suspect she’ll receive a call for a reference as annie applies for work. from the company she’s applying to, with no warning. that’s the vibe i’m getting.)

    2. Kevin Sours*

      I’m honestly not that surprised. Annie had real “you are not the boss of me” energy. ( Which, spoiler alert….) This was going to go one of two ways. Either there was going to a heartfelt meeting in which she realized she had some fundamental misconceptions about how things worked and need to sort her stuff out (people sometimes do change their attitudes on contact with reality), or … this.

    3. EtTuBananas*

      I have mixed feelings. On the one hand, in the original letter, it was pretty clear that Annie’s taste for insubordination went waaaaaaaaaay beyond calling her manager “mom.”

      On the other, the aggressiveness of her retaliation feels totally bananas to me. I would expect some pushback, but more of the passive-aggressive variety, not escalating to the CEO!

      1. Anon Again... Naturally*

        I’m floored by the fact that she apparently thought she could just show up at the CEO’s office and they would immediately have time to meet with them.

        1. Lady Blerd*

          It actually makes sense to me for someone this obtuse who doesn’t understand professional norms. I’m more floored that she got a lawyer to sign a lettter about the retaliation but I’m betting she omitted key elements when she spoke to them.

            1. Bunny Lake Is Found*

              Can confirm. I know many a fellow lawyer who knows it is easier just to write a “demand” letter with no actual threat beyond “we may consider legal action” rather than turn the family member down or try and explain what the law actually is. Thankfully, my family is full of non-lawyers who just think what I do is weird word magic, so they trust me when I say “yeah, that’s not a thing” and don’t force me to jeopardize my license for petty grievances.

            2. Momma Bear*

              I suspect this as well. She threw a fit when she was told that skipping a meeting that she didn’t want to attend was not acceptable and then probably found a sympathetic relative to write the letter hoping the company backed down.

              The severance package is probably money well spent to have her move on.

          1. RoseGarden*

            I feel bad for the poor family member or friend that she roped into writing that letter knowing full well that there was no real case.

      2. Dhaskoi*

        Reading the first letter and this one back to back, I get the distinct impression that Annie hasn’t made the mental leap that work does not operate on the same rules as home. Her attitude seemed to be that of someone who thinks they’re being asked to do too many chores and thinks ‘fair’ means getting her own way.

    4. Random Dice*

      I am so proud of the wonderful script Not Your Mom used!

      It didn’t work because them pants were FULL of bananas, but with a normal professional person that script would have worked like a charm.

      Well done!

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      And over and over again!

      A beautiful example of how sometimes, doubling down and pushing forward is not actually the best thing to do.

      (I would really treasure a follow-up from the peer called into a meeting to discuss how emails are TRAPS and are you with me as we storm management together about this outrage?!! And on behalf of that person, LW, I thank you for firing her.)

        1. Elizabeth West*

          They are — for someone who isn’t doing their job and doesn’t want that documented!

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            It’s like Annie reads AAM but took completely the wrong lesson from that topic.

        2. Alanna*

          I work at a company that runs on chat, I’m notoriously bad at email, and I think Annie is being ridiculous. I’ve occasionally missed important messages with deadlines, etc., because it is not customary at my company to communicate that stuff via email. You know what I do in that situation? I apologize PROFUSELY and do whatever I need to do to get the work done.

        3. Timothy (TRiG)*

          Well, I could easily miss an email, because everything happens in Slack or Jira, and I check my work email once or twice a week to delete most of the automated messages and spam unread. (I don’t deal with customers, and I’m in a small company.)

        4. Twinklefae*

          It’s crazy. I’ll admit to not reading all the emails I get – I’m not an office worker, I don’t work in my first language and I find them overwhelming. BUT if I miss something important- that’s on me.

      1. LunaLena*

        Honestly, since Annie is young and this is probably her first office job, I’m not terribly surprised at a lot of this. I work at a university and have worked with a number of students in my department, and at least three of the most recent ones have had to be directly told that checking and responding to their emails is part of their job (at least one of them is still not fully grasping this yet, after a couple of months on the job). It’s also common knowledge that students don’t read their email and email marketing doesn’t work with them – they tend to communicate with their professors and peers through text and Discord, and assume that all email is spam. It’s a big enough problem that I was recently added to a small committee to discuss how email could be made to be more effective, since the administration would really like to actually use it as a tool.

        From trawling around sites geared towards younger people like Reddit and Buzzfeed, I’m also getting the distinct impression that many people on the Internet think that workplaces only exist to treat you horribly, squeeze money out of you, and need to be taken down a peg, and if you don’t agree, you’re just a corporate shill and bootlicker. I’ve seen so many articles and TikToks about “look at this young woman who was treated HORRIBLY by her company and how she heroically fought back!” So it’s not really surprising to me that at least one person took that as a reason to double down and push back, thinking that she is doing the right thing and standing up for herself. Sometimes Main Character Syndrome is just strong with people.

        1. J*

          >”also getting the distinct impression that many people on the Internet think that workplaces only exist to treat you horribly, squeeze money out of you”


        2. The Person from the Resume*

          I mean, my personal email has more spam and useless emails (not exactly spam but you have an online bill, online order confirmation, we shipped, it’s almost to you, it’s been delivered, did you get it?, please review, etc.) than anything useful. I do not use email for personal communication.

          However, that does not apply to my work email! Admittedly we do IM a lot more than we used to (I started work with computers and email but no messaging software), but email is still better than IM for saving/tracking/organizing information and communicating with a large group of people.

          But I am almost 50 so maybe the 20 somethings need to learn that email is/can be important as a office/work skill.

          1. Chilipepper Attitude*

            Same. But I’m also late 50s so maybe work email is just an old person thing.

            If you are in my personal life and you send me an email, you have to text me to tell me to read the email. Otherwise, I won’t see it for weeks.

            Work email I check All. The. Time. I should not, but I do.

            1. Tad Cooper*

              Millennial here, who’s had lots of Gen Z coworkers. Even on teams that have basically lived on Slack, e-mail communication has been vital in every job I’ve had. If you’re working on multiple deliverables at once and trying to stay organized, or if you’re talking to external vendors or clients, there’s really no better alternative.

              Just because it’s not my favorite communication channel doesn’t mean that I get to opt out.

            2. Bibliothecarial*

              I work with several Gen Zers and they are all great at communicating, including by email. Really the only difference between them and older colleagues is the energy level and being less jaded in general.

            3. Girl Division*

              I’m a millennial and have been a manager in several jobs over the last ~8 years, and I rely heavily on email. My refrain at one of my former employers was “can you please send that in an email?”

              To my mind, chat/teams is great for pinging or flagging something urgent, getting quick attention, or discussing something rapidly. I prefer any requests for deliverables, assignments, and feedback to be sent via email. Chat just moves too quickly and I rely heavily on my search function in my email!

          2. Jenny Craig*

            The receptionist at my therapist’s office doesn’t check email, and no one there thinks it’s any big deal! I had to cancel an appointment and was at work and didn’t want people to hear, so I sent a message to the receptionist’s email (“Judy@DoctorsOffice.com”). The following afternoon, I got a call from the receptionist asking if I was running late, and I asked if she got my cancellation email. She said “Oh, I don’t use my email.” Me: “That’s strange, because the only reason I had your email is from receiving emails from you.” Her: “Yeah, I send emails if I have to but otherwise don’t even open my email.” (Note: there was no disclaimer on the email with something like “Please do not respond to this email as the mailbox is not monitored.”) The next time I went in, Therapist asked “Why didn’t you show up to your last appointment? I want to let you know we start charging for no-call-no-shows after the first one.” (It was my first “no call no show”, although of course it really wasn’t.) Me: “I emailed Receptionist the day before.” Therapist: “Yeah, you have to call, because she doesn’t check email.” Ummmm… so you’re talking about charging me because your employee won’t check their email? In what world does that make sense?

            Oh, and Receptionist was about mid-40’s. Which is around my age, so I don’t think hers was a generational thing.

            1. cuddleshark*

              I want to say “In what world does this make sense,” but I’ve run into a shocking amount of my fellow employees who just don’t check email and apparently it’s just… everyone else’s problem to work around that, I guess?

            2. Ultra Anon*

              Unless they have a policy about how you need to cancel appointments, I would not pay that bill and make a GIGANTIC stink about it. Even if the bill was written off, I would consider switching therapists.

              1. Momma Bear*

                Agreed. Either it’s a valid form of communication and they check it or it shouldn’t be offered at all, for anything. I would not have been so blasé about it.

          3. Falling Diphthong*

            My kids are in their 20s and perfectly capable of using email at work. Outside of work, I email either stuff that isn’t time sensitive, or I text them “Hey, I scanned that thing you need and emailed it to you” because I don’t expect them to be constantly checking personal email. (But they both have and use personal emails.)

            I am in my 50s an email marketing doesn’t work on me because only Anywhere Costa Rica hit on “We should email very rarely, and then only when a blizzard is barreling toward New England.”

            1. MigraineMonth*

              I am on top of my work email (except for the ones that go to huge lists, which I route into my “check once a week” folder), but I confess I am much worse at emailing with my mom.

              In my defense, my mother tends to embed the critical, time-sensitive information (e.g. the time her flight arrives and I need to meet her at the airport) in the seventh paragraph of an email that spent the first five paragraphs talking about someone at church who got sick, with the subject line “Re: re: re: re: Happy Birthday, Jim!”

              After that incident, I explained to her that for time-sensitive things, it would really be better if she texted. So now she texts me “Check your email!”

          4. Warrior Princess Xena*

            No, this isn’t a generational thing (or not all a generational thing). I think email has fallen away as a medium for casual chatting (way too easily copied & posted online, for one!). As a 20-something, it’s still very commonly used for either personal administrative use (appointments & documents), or the sort of things that aren’t really readable but are important to have on hand (receipts, order confirmations, etc). At no point in my education or career have I come across the idea that email is a dead medium.

            1. Sorrischian*

              Email is alive and well! My workplace has multiple shifts, some of which don’t overlap at all, so we keep track of basically every ongoing issue via email. It’s just too easy for stuff to get lost in IMs (also, our company’s retention policy for IMs is only a few months while emails are a few years, and I’ve absolutely needed to dig up two year old emails to answer protocol questions a few times)

          5. Sir Nose d'Voidoffunk*

            I love Ed Zitron’s newsletter, and as it happens he just wrote yesterday about the terrible state of email and the internet:

            Every company I have ever interacted with decides to send me at least one email a week, several of them choosing to do so multiple times. I have tried every unsubscription product under the sun, and none seem capable of changing the fact that email, the single most popular product on the internet, has become unquestionably poisoned.

            This is a direct result of the spam culture of modern commerce – every time you interact with any business online, even once, you are agreeing to be spammed. Book a flight with Southwest? Enjoy 3 or 4 emails a week about the flight you’re taking, even if it’s in a few months time, asking if you’d like to rent a car or book a hotel. Give a steak company your email? Expect to be emailed every single major holiday or news event that they see fit with some sort of discount or new product.

            My email is irrevocably f****d to the point that I have to tell people to email me on my work email, because I will reliably not see it on my personal because a company I bought a suit from in 2017 has a new discount, or because Product Hunt has decided that I need both a weekly and a daily update that I have never clicked.

            1. Harper the Other One*

              OMG this. I have some children’s clothing companies I follow because their clothes are high quality and they regular go on sale for 40% off, so I do want their sales alerts. They send four to five emails a DAY about the same sale.

              1. Sir Nose d'Voidoffunk*

                The sad thing is that the worst offender for me, by orders of magnitude, is my kids’ school district. Updates from the county multiple times a week that never contain any information I needed, daily newsletters from each school, dozens of volunteer opportunities EVERY DAY. I might get more emails from them than the rest of my inbox combined, and you can’t opt out of anything individually – it’s all or nothing. So I have to hope that I can identify it whenever there’s something actually important.

                1. Trying to Herd the Cats*

                  YES. My older kid just did kindergarten this school year, and I had nooo idea how much email I was signing up for. And I’m a person who likes email!

            2. Media Monkey*

              argh! so annoying. i got an email recently from a company i have bought from (single upfront purchase with occasional – maybe once a year – restock of consumable elements). it said “clearly as you don’t open our emails you don’t want to hear from us so you will be removed from our mailing list. reply if you want to stay on”. i wanted to keep getting their emails so i replied. i now get about 5 emails a week. passive aggressive marketing emails!

          6. Ampersand*

            My personal email accounts are a hot mess, too—work email isn’t, because that’s how we communicate important information that needs to be documented.

            I mean, there has to be SOME way to get information from point A to point B—and if it’s not mail, memos, faxes, phone calls, or carrier pigeon, we’re mostly left with email.

            Using chat programs to keep track of stuff isn’t easy, in my experience. Since I can’t reliably get Teams to work correctly to pull up old conversations (that I need to reference), I don’t have much hope for its staying power as an e-mail replacement just yet.

        3. LCH*

          haha, i didn’t read the comments first and said something about this way down below. i’ve noticed college teachers talking before about how students are not using email. it really needs to be emphasized that “in the real” world, it is still very much a business communication tool.

          1. Anne Elliot*

            Not to mention that if the usual communication mode at a company is chiseling messages on bricks and then heaving them across the room, that’s what you’d better learn to do. “They don’t do that in the real world” is not enormously relevant if that’s what they do over here.

          2. Uranus Wars*

            I teach a business communications class to college freshman and this is something we cover in detail – the importance of email in the workplace, regardless of its place in your personal life. And that “text speak” isn’t professional in a work email directed to manager/vendor, etc.

            1. Elee*

              As a zillenial who works for a company that spans the age ranges, I will 100% say that the only people who use text speak in company communications are like 40+ in age.

        4. marvin*

          The thing is … it’s not wrong to have a problem with working in an environment where your rights as a worker are eroded, many employers will try to squeeze everything they can out of you and offer the minimum in return, and you can work multiple jobs and still barely afford to live. That’s just capitalism working as intended.

          The “young and inexperienced” part comes into play when people like Annie are willing to burn through their own reserves of energy and goodwill to fight standard workplace expectations. I’m all for protesting capitalist norms, but this isn’t a very strategic way to go about it.

          1. Yes Anastasia*

            “I’m all for protesting capitalist norms, but this isn’t a very strategic way to go about it.” Yeah, and it’s a shame because people like Annie feel like they’re sticking it to The Man, but they’re actually working against their own interests. I feel like capitalism actually has an incentive to create Annies, because the alternative would be workers advocating for themselves in meaningful ways.

            1. Double A*

              I feel like capitalism actually has an incentive to create Annies, because the alternative would be workers advocating for themselves in meaningful ways.

              Ohhh this is so interesting! I am gonna think on this one.

                1. Yes Anastasia*

                  I can thank Hannah and Marcelle over at Witch Please Productions for broadcasting deep thoughts about how capitalism encourages us to chase feelings rather than real political action. They recently released a podcast episode to their Patreon about the work of Lauren Berlant and their concept of “cruel optimism,” which I found really interesting and somewhat applicable here.

              1. Calyx*

                I may be stepping into a pit on this one, but it’s exactly the same as the abortion issue. Regardless of where you stand on that, it’s an extremely useful issue for any party that wants to work against the interests of most of the population. If you can divert a ton of time, effort, money, and white-hot rage into fighting for the rights of the unborn, all of that is taken away from what would be available for fighting for the rights of the born. All of those are zero-sum factors, practically speaking, so it’s very canny to divert them in a direction that leaves you free to work in other areas.

                1. Tupac Coachella*

                  My daughter (a very astute Gen Z) calls this the “dead babies” argument. She knows that any meaningful discussion of gender issues can (and often will) be torpedoed by the insinuation that political liberals advocate killing babies. Once that fallacy is applied, she doesn’t even argue anymore because any additional argument WILL be promptly ignored, especially if it’s a good one.

          2. SleepyWolverine*

            I still shudder when I think about my first post-college job. I got myself worked up in a righteous fury over the way Things Should Be, rather than learning to deal with Things As They Are.

            My coworker took a month-long vacation and I was expected to do her work as well as my own. I naively emailed my grandboss to ask what her hourly pay rate was, since I would naturally be getting her rate as well as my own for covering both jobs while she was on vacation.

            Oh, to be 22 again.

        5. awing*

          In the original letter, OP said that Annie had been with the company for 5 years and she’d been managing Annie for two. That’s far too much time to still expect this level of workplace-norms ignorance.

          1. RON'S IN Bloosh*

            right? at that point she’s in her mid to late 20s with 5 years of experience. this is first-year-out-of-college stuff.

            1. Portia*

              I hadn’t registered that either — yikes! With that in mind, Annie’s goal seems to be to ensure that everyone acknowledges she is Different and Special, so it’s obviously unreasonable to place on her the same expectations that apply to everyone else.

              If she’s managed to get five years into the working world with that mindset in place, it’s unlikely she’ll change much. Unless she finds a job in the Land of Doormats*, Annie is likely facing a future of getting fired a lot, and feeling mistreated and persecuted every time.

              *I worked in the Land of Doormats for a while, alongside a Special Person who was never expected to do any work at any time, because he had an advanced degree. “We can’t ask Gary to do that, he has a Ph.D!” Far as I know, he’s still there.

        6. Yes Anastasia*

          Your second paragraph seems right and yet bewilders me, because if these folks are genuinely committed to underachievement, they are going about it completely wrong! You cannot hashtag-girlboss your way to becoming a successful slacker; you need to understand how the system works. There is a disconnect between the cynicism on display and the naivete of tactics, and the outcome is that gullible young people are being set up to fail in every direction.

        7. Sprigatito*

          I had an employee who, when informed that their performance was not meeting expected standards, told me (essentially) that the problem was that I was an inflexible meanie head. And then went to a coworker to brag about how they were ‘no longer going to allow anyone to treat them like a doormat’.

          There are some people who just don’t understand how work relationships don’t function the same as personal/family relationships. Sometimes it’s a symptom of being inexperienced, and sometimes it’s someone incapable of seeing past their own ego.

        8. Drago Cucina*

          I had a big problem in previous job with job applicants. The application was clear that notification would be made via email. They had to initial that they acknowledged this fact.

          I would send a Calendly link to schedule an interview and receive no response. Sometimes I would try and call and leave a message. No voicemail. Then the person would be upset because I never texted them about the interview.

          Sorry, I’m not doing that. This is how business works. I apply for a job via USAJobs, or other site, notification is via email.

          1. I have RBF*

            Yeah, I never text about jobs if I can avoid it – too many scams. If a recruiter contacts me by text I am suspicious because it might be a scam.

        9. Ink*

          I feel like email is in roughly the same basket as cursive- at some point it just dropped off the face of the earth because schools stopped teaching it, or stopped teaching it effectively. In my area at least, it happened more or less simultaneously to cursive, too; between me and me youngest sibling both were just gone. It made online schooling hell on him and our parents, because having never needed his school email BEFORE now he didn’t know how to get into it and when that was solved he didn’t check it! Social media is a lot of it, I think; when I learned about how email works that was how I could talk to my cousins. Now even my least tech-savvy great aunt communicates exclusively via instagram DMs- the “fun” part of email just isn’t there, so the professional norms part gets thrown into the mental trash bin.

          1. Rara Avis*

            At the school where I teach students (grades 6-12) are required/trained to check their email twice a day, and it’s their only way to contact their teachers, as we are absolutely forbidden to have any social media contact with them.

          2. Susannah*

            I never knew anyone who learned how to email in school – it’s pretty basic. At any rate, if a job applicant was told he or she would be emailed, and they didn’t open emails, I would not call them. And I sure as hell would not hire them. How would they ever follow directions?
            And I can’t deal with this idea that such-and-such generation doesn’t email/call/talk to anyone anymore. It’s not a job applicant’s or employee’s decision to make. If your company emails, then do it. Or don’t work there.

        10. Just Ugh*

          well I work with a classic missing stair who has proclaimed numbers of times he does not do emails. and yes he has been there ten years and will never leave as he is the pet.

          1. Lexi Lynn*

            Cursive is evil (I’m left handed and was regularly punished for breaking the pencil lead too often because right handers pull the pencil across the page and left handers push).

            But I can’t imagine only relying on chat. I often get requests to update an analysis I did a couple years ago and all the requester remembers is that I looked at the data in a really cool way. Thank goodness for email archiving systems.

          2. Bex (in computers)*

            Do you work with me, Ugh?! Because that’s my colleague – he routinely misses emails and important information, fails to see updates about processes, critical alerts.

            But he’s been here so long, and it’s just a fun quirk that he doesn’t check his emails, so it’s totally fine that I handle the work that comes in via email and all the piddling requests… all the time …

        11. Cafe au Lait*

          This is why my new soapbox is pushing back on the “HR serves the needs of the employer, not the employee” mindset.

          Too often individuals want HR to act as a moral authority, when HR is there to act in an ethical capacity in accordance with the law. Sometimes the goals are the same, sometimes what is ethical is not always moral.

          My workplace is in the process of unionizing. When the unionization effort was first announced, I had one colleague who was incredibly vocal about joining. She wanted the union to punish one of the higher ups who’d wronged the colleague. During a social event, after hearing my colleague vent, I pointed out that the union’s first question was going to be “What conversations have you had with the higher up?” A well run union wouldn’t enter the fight without asking some very probing questions. They’re not going to take on the mantle of a moral authority without having all the facts first.

          1. 1LFTW*

            She wanted the union to punish one of the higher ups who’d wronged the colleague.

            I’ve gotten heavily involved in my own union over the past year, and I think we all go into it with the fantasy of the Union as an entity that “punish” badly-behaving managers. Turns out, we don’t have the standing to discipline managers; we can only hold them accountable to the contract, and demand restitution if they fail to honor it. Whether their own manager chooses to punish them isn’t up to us.

            If I’m addressing a workplace dispute, I will absolutely gather as many facts as I can, and my mantle of moral authority is the contract. If it’s not in the contract, I can’t help. Once I’ve ascertained the facts, depending on the levels of the people involved, I may coach a worker to talk to their direct supervisor to assert their rights; on the other hand, if there are plenty of situations where I might advise the worker NOT to speak directly to management, because there are all too many people in my org’s management who are us trustworthy.

        12. AceyAceyAcey*

          I’m an academic. I started giving out my Google Voice number to students for texting a couple years ago. Most of them still email me, but this lets the ones who don’t like email as much still contact me. And if I need to tell them something long, I email them and then text “I just emailed you something, can you check that and get back to me?” And they’ve done the same with me as well.

        13. Harpo*

          I choked on my used tea when I read “main character syndrome” and had to immediately Google it. I didn’t know it was a thing, but it’s going to be a go-to phrase in the future. Thank you for educating me!

        14. Momma Bear*

          I’ve seen this with my own offspring. Rather than being overwhelmed about the influx of junk mail, use filters and folders. Mark people you need to hear from as important. Etc. It’s like wearing the right outfit to work. Sometimes office norms don’t need to make sense to you to be the way things are done. If your boss or teacher uses email, then YOU use email to communicate with them. It was eye opening to find out how little my children read their emails when so much of their schooling is now online.

          I was shocked that she refused to look at the attachment. Of course it was way more than just emails and it was time for her to move along.

          1. Momma Bear*

            Correction: She read the doc (but still didn’t sign it!) but not the email. Wow.

        15. Quill*

          I’m a decade out of college but nearly everything in my student email even back then was spam… the thing is that having two billion things allowed to make all campus announcements (plus actual spam, which has been getting more and more numerous and good at guessing emails) does not train people to keep up with their communications.

          I think people flee information overload by moving their personal communications into mediums that are progressively more and more restricted to the people they actually want to talk to. And needing your email to sign up for things / sign in to things makes it a much more likely avenue of overload.

      2. Nebula*

        Also, I don’t know if I’m reading this wrong, but the document was sent as an attachment to an email, and Annie read the document… but not the email. She’s not claiming that she missed the email entirely, she’s claiming that no one can expect her to actually read the text of an email she has opened. Truly extraordinary.

        1. Random Dice*

          That was a thing of beauty.

          It also perfectly encapsulates that she was always lying, and was always a giant manipulative baby.

    2. Cait*

      “Can you please get this done by Wednesday?”

      “You missed the deadline, so this is a warning.”
      “I’m calling my lawyer!”


      1. Kate*

        The lawyer speaks to a level of entitlement and privilege that you can’t reasonably manage your way out of. Just… woof.

  1. Falling Diphthong*

    Warning: Do NOT take a sip of tea just as you get to the end of the second paragraph.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      I was eating a giant salad and paused with lettuce hanging out of my mouth like that koala meme.

  2. CheesePlease*

    Yikes! Good luck to Annie getting a new job when she *checks notes* refuses to read emails when email is still a highly normal and practical form of communication in a vast majority of companies.

    Thankfully you had the support of HR and leadership enforcing workplace norms. However, I am sorry you had to pay severance to get her to quit peacefully. Woof.

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      I do love the email thing as a flip on the frequent “put it in an email so there’s a paper trail” advice here. Annie read that bit of advice and took completely the wrong lesson from it.

    2. Lauren19*

      I once had an employee refuse to check voicemail. His response was “yeah people can usually find me another way.” Shocker he didn’t last long.

      1. AnonyLlama*

        TBF I am pretty senior in my organization, and I have told my team in no uncertain terms that they can remove (waves at desk phone) *that thing* from my desk as I have no intention on using it. Best ways to reach me are Teams chat or voice, cell phone text or call or email. I’ve never once checked my desk phone voicemail.

        Some methods actually are phasing out in many work places.

        1. Frost*

          I am senior-ish–I have a senior job title but haven’t been with this company very long. I have not set up voice mail on either my cell phone or desk phone.

          Very few people call me, anyway. My bosses both call my personal phone if I don’t pick up my cell phone.

              1. Lenora Rose*

                Good thing that your workplace has those bounds. I have a few peoples’ personal cells but I don’t text or call anyone outside work hours with one emergency exception, and I’ve never been texted outside work hours with the exception of one “I’m sick” text from the person whose phone calls I take when they’re away.

        2. Observer*

          Yeah, you can do that because it’s your team, so you get to set the rules. But if your boss tells you that you need to check voicemail, that’s a very different thing.

        3. Need More Sunshine*

          You can probably do that because you’re senior in the org, though, and proactively offered numerous other ways to get ahold of you.

        4. Syfy Geek*

          I worked with someone who was not at all senior in our company. Their office phone number was on the website, on forms potential clients were given, etc.. About 18 months into their position I said something about having left them a voice mail. That’s when they told me they didn’t know how to check voicemail so they just ignored it.

        5. Kayem*

          My partner works in IT for local government and apparently the local police have a phone number for non-emergency calls that people text to all the time. Their phone system is VOIP through the central server so IT can see when texts come in. But the phone in the police department is an old-school desk phone, so it can only accept voice calls. People text to it all the time, everything from rants to reporting crimes with attached photo evidence. The only way those get noticed is if someone in IT happens to be looking at a specific dashboard within a specific timeframe. IT forwards the ones they catch to police email, but most go into the ether.

          The police department absolutely refuse to replace the old desk phone with one that can display texts. Then they wonder why they get so many complaints about non-responsiveness.

        6. Me (I think)*

          My outgoing message says to email me, as I am never in the office to even see that I have a voicemail.

          1. Becky*

            My company transitioned everyone to Teams which has a built in soft phone and all my voicemails automatically get emailed to me as mp3 files.

        7. LifeBeforeCorona*

          I work in an academic setting and they live and breathe via email. I think the school would collapse unto itself if the email function was removed.

      2. Chilipepper Attitude*

        My boss, the head of everything, and I both have blinking lights for messages. We don’t really know how tolisten to them or get rid of them. We can see who called, so we respond, but we don’t delete the messages. And almost no one who works here leaves a message.

      3. Kevin Sours*

        I’ll admit that for some while I forgot I had voicemail and never checked it. (Phones are just not a common communication method in my line of work and I no longer have a work phone). But if my manager don’t me to check my voicemail I would damn well apologize and make an effort to do that.

      4. I have RBF*

        I no longer even have a soft phone provided by my job. I use my cell phone for work calls, but I’ve only had maybe 4 calls in a year.

        I live by email and work chat.

      5. DeafNerd*

        I am Deaf. You try to communicate to me via voicemail? You will not be communicating to me.

    3. CommanderBanana*

      Aaah yes, the old “trap them with info you put in an email that you then send to them” switcheroo!

      1. Random Dice*

        Curses! If it hadn’t been for those meddlesome kids, we would have gotten away with it!

    4. But Not the Hippopotamus*

      I would have been tempted to say, in response to the ‘everyone here’ comment: I work here, as do (insert CEO, and other leadership), and we all use email. Emails is an incredibly normal form of communication I’m the workplace.

      1. Decima Dewey*

        “Everyone here” probably means the handful of people Annie asked, who gave her the answer she wanted because they just wanted to get on with the day.

        Look, if your boss prefers communication via email (or smoke signals, carrier pigeon, ASL, Morse code, etc), you read and use the communication the boss prefers.

        1. Warrior Princess Xena*

          Or depends on how she asks. If you were to ask me what kind of communication I use 99%+ of the time with coworkers, I’d tell you email or teams. It wouldn’t occur to me to include phone numbers in there because we basically never phone each other internally, and if someone new were to ask me “hey, how do you normally communicate with your manager” phones would not be on my suggested list. That would not in any way translate to “phones are not a valid method of communication and no one uses them nowadays”.

      2. OP*

        I said, “So if I’ve only sent you one email once in two years, don’t you think that’s a pretty strong signal that you should actually read that email?”

    5. b-reezy*

      I worked with an older gentleman in my old job who refused to read emails. He literally had thousands of them sitting in his inbox. When asked, he’d say, “If it’s really important, someone will tell me in person.” I just looked and he’s been promoted twice since I left that department.

      1. CheesePlease*

        I mean I wrote to Allison years ago because I had a coworker who never responded to me via email. I did in fact just use other methods of communication with her because my manager expected me to get the job done and there was no good reason I could not call / walk to her desk.

        She quit though, rather than being promoted. And I don’t know if it was just my emails or all emails she ignored.

        1. Cats cats cats*

          Maybe she didn’t realize she was going to be promoted because she was emailed about it

        2. b-reezy*

          The problem was that he was missing crucial emails about policy updates, technical issues, etc. that were time sensitive. They just refused to do anything about it and the frustration of everyone else because he was “good with customers” (he really wasn’t). We later found out that he’d been fired from a different department for violating policy (related to a Federal regulation)–wait for it–because he REFUSED TO READ HIS EMAIL. He should have been blacklisted, but his supervisor didn’t bother, so he was able to come back as a contractor and then got hired in permanently.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        Someone wrote in about their boss having hundreds of unread emails, and like the first comment was “I have 9781 unread emails.”

        1. Me (I think)*

          My student worker had 8000 unread emails. When I asked them about it, they said that if it were important, the person would email again.

          I just looked at her, and said, yeah, but you’ll ignore that one too.


          1. sparkle emoji*

            I’ve reached the several thousand unread emails threshold a few times, but in my defense, it’s because I don’t delete spam/promotional emails often and instead just work around them

        2. I have RBF*

          I have that in my personal email, because that’s where all my LinkedIn garbage, acknowledgements of orders, and newsletters from random companies go. I go an clean things out every few months, and I can’t just unsubscribe from things because I like getting order acknowledgements and shipping updates, and most places don’t let you get the useful stuff without the marketing spam.

          What I do opt out of and/or turn off is “notifications” from websites and apps that aren’t literally time sensitive communications. No, random shady news site, I do not want browser pop-up notifications, why would you think that anyone would want that?

          1. Quill*

            Every time something (usually a website) asks if I want push notifications there is a part of me that asks where the swears it got it’s hubris.

    6. Melissa*

      I dealt with an employee recently who would also just matter-of-factly say that she doesn’t use email. (Her age isn’t relevant, except to say that this was neither a GenZ person nor a Boomer– she was 37 years old and thus, like the rest of us in her age bracket, raised on email.) She’d communicate with you via text, but about 90% of emails to her just went un-answered. And she, like today’s post, she felt it was totally reasonable, like “Well, I’m not really an email user.” She didn’t seem to realize that it was a necessary part of her job, not just something she could just ignore because it wasn’t her preference!

      1. mb*

        I have to kind of laugh that when people are commenting on generational issues it’s always Boomers vs GenY/Z. Nobody even remembers Gen X is there in the middle, least of all the GenX people themselves.

        1. Medical Librarian*

          Oh, we remember we’re in the middle. We’re just used to being outnumbered and overlooked.

          1. Xantar*

            My rule of thumb: if you remember 9/11 but don’t remember the fall of the Berlin Wall, you are a Millennial.

            1. Random Bystander*

              And then there’s the new wave moving into professional life–my youngest children (one employed in IT, his twin still in college to become an RN) were born just a few months before 9/11, so of course they don’t remember that either. I think that’s GenZ? I get so confused, because I think my oldest (born in 1993) classes as a Millennial, but my other three (1998, 2001) don’t.

              1. sparkle emoji*

                The cutoff to being a millennial is typically 1995, so yes 1998 and 2001 would be gen z

        2. Jellyman Kelly*

          Oh, we know we’re in the middle and I think we’re ok with being overlooked in this generational warfare.

        3. Bex (in computers)*

          That’s cause all the Gen X folks are too busy taking the chicken out of the fridge to thaw and chilling alone as always … age might change but the habits don’t!

      2. Frieda*

        My (former) boss’s boss refused to use email except occasionally when she sent out emails to the whole list of people who reported to her direct reports. They aways had URGENT PLEASE READ in the title.

        If you replied to one of those, though, she might or might not read it. Plus she “kept her own calendar” but not really which meant that if you wanted an appointment with her, say to discuss something that could have been addressed in an email, you had to lurk outside her office to either catch her when she was free or (possibly) get on her calendar.

        She also did not read paper left on her chair, even for things that she demanded to be looped in on that needed extensive documentation. So you could email her, leave her hard copies in a place where she could not possibly miss seeing them, and still expect zero response since she did not read anything.

        Luckily, she did call people up (including after hours) to scream at them if something went awry. It was fantastic.

        1. Jen with one n*

          I also worked for one of these. She was equally exhausting, and only had attention for one specific project our branch was doing (which went really poorly). “Luckily” for us (and unfortunately for the other department), she got a promotion and left after a few months. She is not missed.

      3. Cruciatus*

        I work for a university with multiple campuses and we have a Teams channel for just various things that come up. I forget what we were even typing about, but one coworker at another branch commented that she doesn’t read emails and if it’s important it will come up again. She wrote this publicly! One or two people sort of tried to acknowledge the weirdness of what she was saying. She ended up leaving a few months later. I’m not saying it is related, but I am saying it may have crossed my mind that maybe one thing may have been an indicator of performance that led to the other… But I’ll never know. She was my age as well, so late 30s, early 40s.

      4. LifeBeforeCorona*

        Our grandboss uses emails because they have many issues and projects that require coordination with other departments. I can’t imagine doing their job with just texts and voicemails.

    7. kiki*

      I had a coworker who wouldn’t read emails! He was actually really great at his job otherwise. The root of the issue really was that our organization was sending him way too many emails. Granted, I think he could have implemented some sorting methods in his inbox, but he experimented and found that anything important would be brought to him via chat or in person. If it had caused issues or his manager told him he had to, I bet he would have started reading his emails.

      1. I have RBF*

        IMO, filtering and sorting work emails is an art that is seldom taught. I regularly end up sharing my “rules” with coworkers so they can tame their inboxes.

          1. Quill*

            Anything auto-generated gets filed without hitting your mailbox.

            Unless it’s from the emergency alert system for your site. (A few jobs ago I had lab refrigerators that emailed me every time they were out of tolerance… in practice, every time someone opened them.)

  3. Presea*

    It definitely seems like you primarily had an Annie problem as opposed to a managing problem, even though you also legitimately had a few lessons to learn. I’m glad she made it easy for you to part ways with her. Yikes.

    1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      It definitely seems like you primarily had an Annie problem as opposed to a managing problem, even though you also legitimately had a few lessons to learn.

      Yea, with the additional context, this was definitely a guano problem. I’d say any “Mom Energy” was just a symptom of (Annie’s) deeper issues.

  4. Wait but*

    I place very high odds on “her lawyer” being a cousin, or a friend of a friend who is fresh out of law school, or some similar person who did her a favor without either of them understanding what was going on here. Threatening an employer to retract an HR warning like this is not a thing a competent employment lawyer would do.

    1. Amber Rose*

      That was my thought too.

      Then again, I’m sure shady incompetent lawyers exist who will write up any kind of document for a fee.

      1. Shanderson*

        Definitely true, but they may not even have been shady and incompetent. One of the things I learned as a law clerk was also that lawyers can look at all the documentation in a consult, flag ALL the holes for the potential client, recommend they let it drop, and still have someone want to retain them because PRINCIPLES. This lawyer could also have read the whole thing, shaken their head and said “Ok, if you really want to pay me 350 an hour to write a letter about this, I can, and maybe they may offer severance to make it go away, so maybe you’ll get 5 K minus your bill, unless they want to fight in which case I do need NOT see a path where you will be successful and you will still be on the hook for our bill. Is that worth it?” And they’ll sign and pay a retainer because spite is a strong motivator and the law firm still needs to pay bills so they’ll send the letter and gripe about it in the lunch room later.

        1. The Law Doesn't Work Like That*

          The other thing is that it’s usually pretty clear which potential clients are determined to light $500 on fire. At that point, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t pay your front desk person for 3 days with that money.

          1. Kevin Sours*

            Sending bumptious threat letters is still shady and a lot of lawyers frown on doing that sort of thing.

        2. Trout 'Waver*

          On the flip side, there are legal programs sometimes offered through work or other services that offer free or discounted legal services. Those lawyers will oftentimes write stupid letters for clients through those services because if they get enough negative reviews they get dropped from the service. So they’ll write any letter they’re asked to even if they know its bunk.

    2. Peanut Hamper*

      I was thinking the same kind of thing. This is very likely a good way to get disbarred.

      1. Richard Hershberger*

        I would be astonished if it led to disbarment. There are some things that will make that happen, but sending a bogus threatening letter is not one of them.

        1. Quill*

          Not doing due dilligence on a letter like this doesn’t make the top ten of things that U.S. lawyers have famously in the last few years not been disbarred for.

      2. The Law Doesn't Work Like That*

        If sending letters with vague threats that can’t actually be enforced was grounds for disbarment, there wouldn’t be any lawyers left.

      1. Richard Hershberger*

        Sending a letter and thinking there is a case are two different things. A letter is quick and easy, and can produce results. Indeed, it seems to have here, getting Annie severance pay.

        Whether this system is socially desirable is yet a different discussion.

        1. Wait but*

          That is a desirable result, because Annie resigned and took money to do so. That will make it much harder for her to come back later and claim she was unfairly fired. The LW doesn’t mention whether they had her sign a release of all claims to get the severance, but it would not surprise me at all if HR did so.

          1. Observer*

            I would hope that HR did exactly that. But they seem pretty competent, so I would think that they have all the paperwork they need.

        2. Statler von Waldorf*

          As someone who worked in a law office, I just want to second this. I have seen many letters sent out by lawyers where everybody in the office knew there was no real teeth behind any of the legal claims made. While that occasionally caused us to get replies from opposing counsel calling us out on our BS, a LOT of people folded like wet cardboard when they got that letter. When it works, it’s probably the most cost-effective method of getting legal relief there is.

          In this case, it absolutely worked. Instead of getting fired for cause, Annie was allowed to quit and get severance pay. That’s a pretty good deal for a letter that probably cost her less than $100.

          I also fully agree that whether this system is socially desirable is a different discussion.

          1. Turquoisecow*

            I’m sure there are HR departments who would see a letter on legal letterhead and freak out and do whatever the employee asked for because they don’t understand the law, don’t have a robust legal department that can explain the law, or don’t want to pay lawyers to explain it to them, and cave instantly. Pretty sure we’ve seen examples of such in other letters.

            This HR department seems to be competent enough that it didn’t work.

      2. Observer*

        I doubt the lawyer actually thought there was a case. But some less than ethical folks will take your money to do things that make no sense. And sometimes, even ethical professionals will do stuff that’s silly if you are willing to pay after they have made it clear that what you are asking for makes no sense. (Not if it’s illegal or dangerous, but this letter was neither of those things.)

        1. JSPA*

          it’s not unethical, so far as I know, to write a potentially- effective letter, even knowing you have no case. The courts only get upset if it gets to court and wastes their time; and disbarrment is multiple steps beyond that.

      3. Sara without an H*

        What Richard and Observer said. Writing a letter is low-effort on the part of the attorney, and will often get at least some results for the client. In this case, it got Annie some severance pay, which she otherwise would not have received. It gets Annie out of the Letter Writer’s/HR department’s hair and out the door.

        Unfortunately, this limited result will probably reinforce Annie’s belief that she’s been treated “unfairly,” and she’ll learn nothing. But at least, she’ll do it on somebody else’s payroll.

        1. Csethiro Ceredin*

          Hopefully she self-righteously tells the story in every job interview she attends.

          The stories you hear in interviews from people who are CONVINCED they are the innocent victim of a dictatorial employer… and you’re sitting there thinking good lord, their poor boss.

          1. Drago Cucina*

            And wonder why they cannot get another job in X field.

            I had a teacher friend who was let go before tenure. Some was a bad principal. Some was her own fault. Every subsequent interview she proudly told me about how she dished with the interviewing principal about how horrible Bad Principal was. I heard through the grapevine that they wondered if she talked about Bad Principal that way, how was she going to talk about them. They didn’t want someone starting with that level of negativity.

            1. Csethiro Ceredin*

              Yes, it seems some people just never get to the “hmm, the common factor is always me” realization.

            2. DeafNerd*

              That was one of the biggest thing I had a problem with a former friend – he was failing to get any jobs, despite the fact that they were incredibly desperate to hire a warm body.

              I asked him exactly how he does the interview, and he was telling them all about how his prior jobs ended on bad notes and all that. Even his job coach was telling him it was a good thing to say that.

              I had to explain that new companies do not want to hear negative stuff, so just say, “I found a new job”, or something positive like that. Never bring up a negative situation or anything like that.

              He got hired immediately on his first interview the week after I told him that.

              Of course, he ended that on a bad note. Ends up having a psychotic break. Really unfortunate situation all around.

      4. Shanderson*

        I commented under Amber Rose above, but tldr the lawyer may have have looked over everything and said “If you really want us to, we can send a letter, and maybe they offer severance to make it stop, but if they fight you are unlikely to be successful and will still need to pay us. Is this worth it to you?” and maybe it was worth it to her.

      5. TimM*

        One who works on “Contingency? No, money down!” rather than “Contingency, no money down”, perhaps.

          1. Sedna*

            “Well, I didn’t win. Here’s your pizza.”
            “But we did win!”
            “That’s OK, the box is empty.”

      1. RNL*

        Lawyers don’t have to be “on board” with things. We are agents for our clients. We have independent responsibilities, and can (and should) certainly refuse to do things that are unethical or illegal, but our job is to assess the facts, give a client advice about their options and the risks and benefits of the options, and then take instructions and act on those instructions. Once you have taken a client on, you have to take their instructions.

        There is nothing unethical or illegal about writing a vaguely threatening letter, and it is an entirely reasonable option in these kinds of circumstances (where your client is facing a bad outcome and you are trying to help them mitigate their risks and achieve a ‘least bad’ result).

        There are a lot of interesting misconceptions of the role of a lawyer in these comments.

        1. Hills to Die on*

          I meant – what kind of person would allow someone to throw their money away like this. Seems unethical to me, even if it is legal. Lawyer should have told her to go home, read her emails, and gStop It.
          But I guess jerks are everywhere.

          1. sparkle emoji*

            As other commenters have pointed out, Annie didn’t really throw her money away here. She likely spent a few hundred dollars to pay a lawyer to send a vague letter, which seems to have helped her get severance pay(almost certainly more money than she paid the lawyer). The alternatives sound like either she gets fired(for cause?) or quits without receiving severance. It’s frustrating that it worked but it’s legal, and Annie got a decent outcome.

          2. Marthooh*

            The lawyer should explain the likely outcome, but in the end they are also not Annie’s mom.

      2. J*

        Wondering what kind of lawyer would take on a completely frivolous case?

        Um… All of them? Like, have you ever met lawyers? ;-)

    3. nm*

      To be fair to the “lawyer”, we have no way of knowing what kind of narrative Annie gave them about the events.

      1. Nea*

        I was thinking that too. Annie has all the buzzwords: “retaliation,” “under duress,” “Execs refused to meet with me” etc.

    4. Cat's Paw for Cats*

      I actually would not have offered severance in this case. The path of least resistance, i.e. less legal hassle in this case, isn’t always the best path.

      1. Observer*

        What makes you think that engaging in a law suit would have been a better path for the company? Sure, Annie *may* have learned something from the debacle that would be for her. Or she might not! And that’s not the company’s responsibly, regardless.

        They need to do the thing that will cost them the least in time, money and other resources. I don’t see any way that this resolution doesn’t fit that criteria.

      2. Snarky McSnarkerson*

        Lawsuits brought for the “principle” of the matter can get quite expensive. It’s a business decision, not necessarily a moral dilemma.

        1. AngryOctopus*

          As someone said above, sometimes the easiest and cheapest way to solve a problem is with money. This way Annie is gone and out of everyone’s hair, and it just cost a little severance pay. Done and done.

    5. Veryanon*

      Exactly. If I had a nickel for every time someone told me “you’ll be hearing from my lawyer” and it turns out to be a cousin/friend of a friend/etc., well….I’d have a s**t ton of nickels.

    6. Unkempt Flatware*

      I just assumed it was printed on a fake letter head and no actual person other than Annie or her boyfriend, Andy, signed it.

  5. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

    My hope is that a few years from now Annie will have reflected and cringe at her behavior in this story. Because if not, she’s in for a rough time.

    1. fort hiss*

      Oh I think Annie is far past the point of ever reflecting and cringing at her behavior. That’s a level of self-righteousness that is rarely curable.

    2. Diocletian Blobb*

      On balance I agree, but as a person constantly wracked with anxiety about their own decisions and competence, I have a weird sort of admiration for people who are fully prepared to bull-rush everything in their path with the assumption that they are right all the time. It’s such a foreign way of thinking to me that I have to check myself from aspiring to it.

      1. Observer*

        It’s a mistake to think that because extreme A is bad, it’s opposite extreme is good. In fact, in the vast majority of cases that’s not true. Neither constant self-questioning NOR total self confidence are healthy.

      2. Trillian*

        I get you there. I used to be drawn to these people as friends (thankfully never as a partner), because they had what I did not: they were my Id, and could push forward where I could not, and I could just ride on their train. I finally got burned enough times to learn that these people are not good friends, while at the same time growing older and tougher–able to screw up without feeling the urge to punish myself, and able to assert myself as needed.

    3. Van Wilder*

      I’ve been a little bit Annie in my life and I can say the reflecting and cringing has happened many times over.

      1. New Jack Karyn*

        Weird tangent, but I read your comment, and now “Mambo No. 5” is in my head. So, thanks for that.

    4. Hills to Die on*

      Let give her like 20 years to sort this out. Seems like she’s got a long road ahead of her.

  6. zolk*

    Wh…what? Annie sounds like she needs some help, and I cannot imagine what yarn she spun for this lawyer.

  7. Nanc*

    The cynical part of me is waiting for the next update where Annie uses OP as a reference . . .

    1. House On The Rock*

      I’m waiting for Annie to write in complaining about her unfair termination because she was expected to read emails.

    1. Ama*

      Yes, I think if Annie was just a typical kind of misguided fresh out of college employee this script would have worked really well. OP had no way of knowing she had the Olympic Champion of Entitlement reporting to her until the later developments.

    2. EtTuBananas*

      I totally agree! She doesn’t place any blame directly on Annie and frames it more as a “I think you should be aware…” thing.

  8. Peanut Hamper*

    Annie sounds amazingly immature. I just cannot imagine anybody I know ever pulling a stunt like this.

    I’m really questioning the integrity/identity of that lawyer, as well.

      1. I have RBF*


        I understand why you allowed her to resign with severance, but my petty mind would have bounced her out as soon as she had her lawyer threaten HR with a lawsuit.

        A lot of places cut off all problem solving and adaptation attempts once lawyers get mentioned or start writing letters. If they have staff lawyers who are pretty sure of the case, they’ll just say “See you in court” and call their bluff.

        YMMV, of course.

        I’m glad your Annie problem is solved. I pity their next employer.

    1. Ellis Bell*

      Yeah when you think like a baby, everyone looks like a parent. I see she even expected communicative spoon-feeding.

  9. Paris Geller*

    Ugh. Annie is the actual embodiment of what so many boomers think us millennials and Gen Z workers are actually like (instead of realizing that Annie is the exception, not the norm, and we’re all just trying to survive.)

    1. exactly!*

      yes! I was thinking, I’m always trying to convince people my age that the kids are actually alright, and this does not help!

    2. mb*

      Agreed. These kind of stories just re-inforce negative stereotypes of newer generations. Although I never really subscribed to the “young people are terrible” trope, after going back to university part time and being 20 years older than my class peers, I experienced first hand how smart and capable these women were. I did note some things, like considerably more social anxiety, and being stumped on how to handle situations and roadblocks – but that isn’t necessarily about an entire generation, and possibly more about these particular women. And they never once made me feel othered for being an older student. (granted they did think I was at least 10 years younger than my actual age).

      1. Random Dice*

        I’m an Old, and not for a minute did I think this was a generational thing, instead of a breathtaking Annie thing.

    3. House On The Rock*

      For what it’s worth (and this is only my experience), I’m a Gen X manager and have found that boomers are far more entitled and difficult to manage than millennials/Gen Z. I also really appreciate when the younger generation pushes back against old workplace norms that can be unrealistic and toxic. It’s refreshing and helps me model good behavior!

  10. Mark This Confidential And Leave It Lying Around*

    Oooo somebody tried that here once upon a time (the lawyer thing). Little fool somehow didn’t realize we’d hand it to our legal department who are ferocious. They were deeply entertained. The person who pulled this was fired for cause, no severance, no unemployment.

    1. Anon for this*

      All the interactions I have had with our legal department lead me to believe that a sense of humor as in-house counsel is a must.

      1. Relentlessly Socratic*

        One of my besties is a lawyer, and she’s about the funniest person I know (and a shout out to her if she’s reading the comments today).

      2. Corporate Lawyer*

        Can confirm: A finely honed sense of humor is an invaluable trait for success as an in-house lawyer. And a ridiculous assertion of a non-existent legal claim (such as Annie’s) can keep me entertained for days.

      3. Random Dice*

        I genuinely adore our in-house lawyers. They are deeply decent people, who do all the dry legal stuff while still being funny and genuine.

    2. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

      No unemployment? I totally get needing to part ways with that person and firing for cause, but blocking them from getting unemployment seems unnecessarily cruel. Maybe I’m not quite understanding how it all works, since I’m not in the US, but dang.

        1. ThatGirl*

          It depends. Sometimes companies don’t fight you on it. 16 years ago I was fired for a perfectly good reason but was told they would not dispute an unemployment claim.

        2. amoeba*

          Similar in Europe, actually! You don’t get disqualified forever, but blocked for a certain amount of time (12 weeks, usually) if the firing was your own fault.

          1. Emma*

            Depends whereabouts you are, different countries have different rules.

            Where I live you’re only blocked for a certain amount of time if you were fired for gross misconduct – like stealing from the company – not for performance issues.

      1. Saberise*

        Employers have a financial consequence of someone getting unemployment since the amount they have to pay to the state for unemployment “insurance” goes up if there are paid claims. Disclaimer: most states but there are a few that doesn’t operate that way

        1. mb*

          It’s a little different in Canada – “employment insurance” is deducted from everyone’s pay and the employer has to match the contributions. The federal government dictates what the rates are. If you become out of work, you apply for the employment insurance. You have to have worked a certain amount of time to qualify and the money ends after a certain amount of time. I think getting fired for cause such as theft disqualifies you. Also, there are rules about paying out an employee when you let them go – something like a week’s pay for every year they work for you up to 8 weeks. Again, the payout depends on why they’re being let go – but if you can’t prove your just cause, it’s easier to just pay out the employee and get rid of them.

      2. Mark This Confidential And Leave It Lying Around*

        When you bring in the lawyers, you win or you lose. Kindness or cutting someone a break is off the table at that point.

        1. I have RBF*


          Most places go full “legal eagle only” when you bring lawyers or a threat or a lawsuit in to play. Bring in a lawyer letter to a manager or HR? The manager or HR no longer handles it, corporate legal does. Essentially, if it’s a threat of a lawsuit, the legal department must handle it.

          The advice here is to not bluff with lawyers against your employer. If you think you have a real case, fine, consult a lawyer. But then follow your lawyer’s advice. Don’t threaten a lawsuit, rant that “XXX will hear from my lawyer”, etc to your company. If you get to the point of having a lawyer write a letter, be prepared to follow through.

    3. Insert Clever Name Here*

      My favorite thing is when our laid back in-house legal get irritated with a contractor’s legal making ridiculous redlines or outlandish arguments in a negotiation and they suddenly morph into the most straight-laced, legalese spewing mountain of Why Are You Wasting My Time With This Bullshit imaginable.

      1. Emma*

        I’m not a lawyer, but part of my job involves reviewing contracts, and I recently sent an email to a senior person letting him know that a contract she was negotiating was missing a *bunch* of mandatory clauses, along with a (slightly unnecessary) link to the government guidance for both our jurisdiction and that of the partner.

        …she forwarded my email to the partner.

        It’s fine, it was worded professionally and I didn’t make any asides, but god, we didn’t need to send them *both* links!

    4. HE Admin*

      I work in higher ed and students threaten to sue for ridiculous things all the time. I always cheerfully give them General Counsel’s contact info. Have fun with that, kids.

  11. Blue*

    I am fascinated by the fact that Annie had been in this job for ~5 years. How did she make it through half a decade at a seemingly normal company with this warped attitude and peevish demeanor?

    1. r*

      That was my thought exactly! This may be her first job, but she is NOT new to the workforce. What on earth has she been doing for FIVE YEARS.

      1. Ama*

        In the original letter, OP notes she’s only been Annie’s manager for 2 of those years and this all started when Annie told OP that she’s been checking up on her too much. So my guess is her original manager let her do whatever she wanted and she started acting out because OP wouldn’t let her get away with it.

      2. Tio*

        I have a feeling she did read emails, and not being required to read emails was just an excuse she pulled out of her rear to (fail to) cover her failure.

        1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          I have it too! How do you read a document attached to an email, but not the email? and how do you read a document with the signature and date fields on the bottom and not wonder what you are supposed to do with it after you’ve signed?

      3. Wilbur*

        My only thought is that her first role was something that didn’t support any specific projects or have tight deadlines. Kind of a “summarize the current state of research on ghost busting tech.” No projects are going to be held up if the project is late, and there’s not really anything for her to present in team meetings so she can do whatever.

    2. MsM*

      Either with a great deal of nudging or a lot of allowance for “flexibility,” apparently.

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      People change. And while we gravitate to stories of people changing for the better, sometimes they become more whiny, bitter, etc, instead.

    4. Antilles*

      I wonder if it’s just a repeated cycle. Boss takes a few months to notice demeanor/attitude, a few months more to get annoyed by it, then starts addressing it informally…then leaves before anything gets documented or resolved, so the next boss comes in without any knowledge of the issue.

    5. Morgan Hazelwood*

      Anyone else curious about the gender of the original manager? that apparently didn’t give her ‘mom vibes’?

    6. Frost*

      Evidently the people she worked with used chat and didn’t care if she showed up to meetings.

      I’m surprised the “I don’t read email” thing didn’t come up at least once in the two years that OP was manager. I bet if OP looks back, she will find instances where Annie didn’t address something that came in over email.

  12. mango chiffon*

    Read through the original post and was shocked when I read that Annie had been working there for 5 years, and LW had been managing her for 2 of those. What was going on in those first 3 years? How could someone have been working at some place for that long and no one else had brought up her missing meetings and deadlines and not reading emails!

    1. Up and Away*

      I was wondering the exact same thing! It always boggles my mind what people get away with at work.

      1. mango chiffon*

        I’ve been at my current job for 5 years, and it is also my first office job out of college, so I can only imagine Annie is a similar age to me. I cannot imagine doing something like this or saying “you can’t expect me to read emails” like !!! in the workplace???

        1. JustaTech*

          I’m amazed how many people don’t read their work email.
          2 examples:
          My spouse works at a company that does most of their communicating over chat (we joke that he gets fewer emails than me, even though he’s a manager in regular communication with 10 times as many people as me). But everyone is still expected to read the 2-3 emails they get!
          Second example: in 2020 my company mailed everyone a “state of the company” document – like a mini magazine with heavy glossy paper and nice color pictures, mailed on a big flat envelope, not folded. You know, expensive. So when I randomly ended up sitting next to the head of HR at a lunch even I asked him why the company spent money on mailing that thing, when it clearly could have been an email. “Most people don’t read their emails from corporate.”
          (I’m not shocked by this, our manufacturing staff doesn’t get a lot of down time at their computers during their shifts, so I’m not surprised that they’d skip corporate emails.) But again, everyone is still expected to read their email (since that’s where your training reminders go)!

          1. amoeba*

            Eh. I mean, people definitely do read their emails here, but that kind of newsletter-style thingy from corporate? Goes straight to trash for most of us (because there’s usually 0 relevant information in it!)

            1. ecnaseener*

              Yeah, big difference between a newsletter and a direct message from your boss about serious concerns with your performance!

            2. Aelfwynn*

              Yeah, the newsletter-type emails are definitely not on the same level as an email from one’s manager.

            1. JustaTech*

              Exactly! And it cost money to print and mail!
              Our then-CEO was very old-school/90’s and I imagine it was his “brilliant” idea.

    2. The Wizard Rincewind*

      Sometimes these attitudes lie in wait. I had a coworker who was generally fine for about this same time frame, 3-5-ish years. A few minor speedbumps but nothing that indicated a recurring problem. And then, I guess he felt…safe enough? Entrenched but over it? Hard to say. Suddenly, he became a pure missing stair and I had the same headscratching moment.

      1. higheredadmin*

        I kind of feel that Annie was left alone for too long, developed some bad habits, and then when confronted the bananapants came out. In my experience part of the strategy of the Annies of the work world is to be so difficult to “deal with” (aka manage) that they get left alone to do whatever they want to do.

        1. Tio*

          Yeah, this is definitely how some people work. There’s a lot of times where people DO bend to whoever is the squeakiest wheel, as we’ve seen many times here, so it’s not terribly surprising to me. Some people think that as long as they continue talking the thing is not decided, when in fact it was decided before they even came in.

          1. higheredadmin*

            Exactly. It is a completely viable strategy in a lot of workplaces, and especially if it isn’t shut down immediately because then you get to the “I’ve worked here for five years and nobody has had an issue” problem.

        2. Cheesehead*

          And they get more comfortable the longer they’re at the job. And after they’re comfortable and on the job for a few years, they view themselves as “experienced” and start taking some liberties without realizing that they shouldn’t be doing that. I would bet that Annie wasn’t really managed in those first 3 years, or at least managed effectively.

    3. Anon for this*

      This sounds like someone who does not actually want to work for other people because it means feedback they don’t want to take. LW, I think you handled this the best you can.

    4. GreenShoes*

      In the comments the OP made a lot of clarifications. I think one of them is that the team was essentially managerless for a couple of years and more or less on their own.

    5. Prospect Gone Bad*

      Because some companies have to deal with WAY worse, so you deal with the worst cases and leave the middling ones for a later day. And sometimes it takes years to get to that case.

      As one of many cases, I once “worked” with someone who WFH before it was a thing, circa 2010, and no one knew what he did. Then I got delegated a “project” that was basically his entire job. I got a raise out of it, so it wasn’t the end of the world for me.

      Then when his division had lay offs a few years later, there was no work to transition!! He just left. No impact.

      So when companies have cases like that, someone who’s a bit sassy doesn’t feel like a priority:-). And despite what some people say, even someone doing nothing takes time to fire at many companies. It’s “employment at will” in name only at many places

    6. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      The original letter from OP said “Annie prizes flexibility in where and how she works above all else”.

      With this update, I think Annie really prioritized getting paid for doing very little work.

    7. run mad; don't faint*

      I worked at my first job for about five years. My first boss was laid back but okay. My second boss was even more laid back, and extremely disorganized too. I ended up being severely unsupervised and developed a lot of bad habits. I did my work and did it okay, but didn’t really answer to anyone and developed a lot of attitude about being asked to do things by others. I felt no one listened to me as well. Some of that was my attitude; some was the result of effectively being unsupervised. I was pretty bitter by the time I left. I still cringe when I think about that job.

      All that to say, that I can see how this sort of situation could arise. I don’t know if I would have gone as far as retaining a lawyer for a letter, but I also left under my own steam, having recognized that the frustration I felt at work wasn’t healthy. Who knows, maybe Annie will get a wake up call and revise how she handles everything.

    8. OP*

      Part of the answer is: pandemic. The company moved to full remote at basically the same time as her previous manager switched roles in the company and left her under grandboss, who had very little time for that many direct reports.

  13. Up and Away*

    Annie’s got a tough road ahead of her in the employment world if she doesn’t make some changes right quick.

  14. M2*

    Yikes. I wouldn’t give her a reference. Maybe it’s part of the resignation settlement, but honestly I wouldn’t it just give her dates of employment and nothing else if contacted.

    1. Observer*

      I see nothing about a reference in the LW’s update, just some severance. I can’t imagine them giving her a positive reference.

      1. Sara without an H*

        I didn’t see anything about references, either. Personally, were I the HR person here, I’d just go with “job title, employed from X date to Y date, not eligible for rehire.”

  15. Wilbur*

    Incredible. And I would love to see a jury trial where one side is arguing “I shouldn’t have to go to meetings or read emails”. I just want to hear any sort of argument in favor of that.

    Also sounds like AAMs previous advice (Have a real conversation about these things) wouldn’t work, because this is clearly someone who feels they don’t need to be managed.

    1. I should really pick a name*

      Arguably it advice works, because you would learn that you need to fire them.

      The goal isn’t getting them to behave the way you want, the goal is to resolve the situation.

    1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      We should start a petition.

      Honestly, I’ve been watching too much Twilight Zone, but the “she’s been there five years” before this “you’re not my mom” personality appeared and started weaving these threads together in my head:
      the infamous intern initiating the dress code petition: the intern had been affected by a an mischievous gremlin living in the copier. The gremlin got bored there and tried to leave, so it entered the fax machine, not realizing well “everyone communicates by chat.” Finally, someone “woke up” the machine and the gremlin who traveled to this office and found this next person and totally changed her work demeanor.
      Going to a lawyer? That’s so extreme; I’ve decided it’s supernatural. But that’s why I don’t have an advice column.
      Or a writing career.
      Or getting a severance package when I willing quit my job because my boss tells me what to do.

    2. ladyhouseoflove*

      I remember reading an article somewhere that more people are weaponizing therapy talk to get what they want and these two cases seem to ring that true.

        1. Kermit's Bookkeepers*

          Kneejerk disclaimer that this doesn’t make the practice of boundaries or attending therapy bad, it just means that selfish people will weaponize whatever will get them what they want.

          (I know you weren’t insinuating the contrary — I just feel fiercely compulsive about defending therapy and healthy boundaries!)

          1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

            …similar to people claiming allergies to food or need for support animals.
            weaponized and bastardized by individuals. But (as your parenthetical directs my thoughts) better that than by government or society in general.
            So we have to err on the side of trust, or end up with a mindset like they had about poorhouses during the time of Queen Victoria, trust nobody in need. They ultimately punished everybody and helped nobody.
            Yes, one person “gets away with” something. We can’t take it out on the next.
            (to be clear, I am 100 % agreeing with you in my ramblings)

    3. Melissa*

      Okay, so, I am the OP for yesterday’s non-consensual meeting post about our minister. This is pretty Meta, but if you scroll up on today’s comments, you will see a response from me saying, “I recently worked with someone who refused to use email” The person I am referring to in that comment is, in fact, NonConsensual Meeting person.

    4. Kermit's Bookkeepers*

      I honestly have been rolling the phrase “nonconsensual meetings” around in my brain like a shiny pebble since yesterday. It’s just spectacular.

      1. Jaydee*

        I feel like many of the meetings I attend are non-consensual in the sense that someone else scheduled them and decided I should attend, and I didn’t get a say in the matter. But that’s…how jobs work?

    5. Tangerina Warbleworth*

      They’re the opening bands for the main act: Meat Embezzler and the Cheap-Ass Rolls. Their music is REALLY emo.

  16. Hills to Die on*

    I can’t imagine life is going to be easy for Annie. Or she finds a company that is willing to tolerate a missing stair – this is how people like that are made.
    Odds are good that there will be a new OP writing in about Annie someday!

    1. Tio*

      It’s kind of amusing to think that some of these letters are all about the same person, hopping from company to company and annoying new letter writers

      1. Chauncy Gardener*

        I would LOVE to know how many of these letters and comments are about the same person! I can only hope many of them are, actually….

        1. AnonORama*

          Ha, I’m often concerned that the subject of AAM letters is actually me. Now I’m concerned they’re ALL me! (Well, not the stealing, gross food, or talking about someone’s weight ones.)

  17. ConstantlyComic*

    I’m just sitting here baffled about her trying to use “I shouldn’t be expected to read emails” as a method to try to rules-lawyer.

  18. Juicebox Hero*

    I’m gonna go tell my boss I’m not going to read emails anymore and she can’t tell me to do anything that isn’t specifically written down in my job description. And then tell her I’m not in the mental state to talk to her so she can only communicate with me via chat.

    She’s having a rough week and could use a good laugh.

    1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      What’s freaking me out is that those three things you list are three letters I know I know I’ve seen here. “My employee hasn’t read emails in a year” jumps right to mind.

  19. Sunny-D*

    Wow, wow, wow. Clearly the problem wasn’t your “mom energy” so much as her “petulant, spoiled teenager energy”. Gobsmacked.

  20. Workerbee*

    “Rather than spending time and money on lawyers, we offered to accept her resignation with some severance pay.”

    I do understand! I also think Annie isn’t going to learn a damn thing. Severance pay to her will connote that you were in the wrong, not her, not one bit.

    1. Observer*

      It’s not the OP’s job to teach Annie anything. *That* would be inappropriate “Mom energy”. Same for the company.

      But, getting pushed out with severance is not a walk in the park unless she’s already gotten a job. On the other hand, even if they fired her and fought her in court, I doubt that that would make her realize that she’s wrong. Because THAT, in *her*mind would show that they are just “mean” and “prove” that the OP was indeed trying to trap her by sending emails.

      You can’t really win with people like this. There are none so blind as who will not see.

    2. White rabbit*

      I wonder more about the larger liability and equity question—does the company give severance to everyone who’s about to be fired or just those who have “lawyered up”?

      1. OP*

        We actually had the offer of resignation planned before she surprised us with the lawyer. Basically, we decided that saving the time and energy we would spend on gathering documentation to fire her based on company & legal policies was worth more to us than what we paid her in severance.

        1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

          Ill was going to share something like this. Friend owns a business. Employee put in two weeks. Ok. Then employee made absurd claims against owner.
          Lawyer: pay him off.
          But we did do X Y Z.
          Lawyer: Court costs $$$. settling 1/2$. suck it up and move on.

    3. Valancy Stirling*

      Oops, sorry. Nesting fail. But in reply to your comment, Annie will continue to burn bridges everywhere she goes, but there might be a bridge that’s particularly important to her that will finally shock her into self-reflection.

      Or she’ll consider herself a victim for the rest of her professional life. One of the two.

    4. Double A*

      I think any outcome was going to be a win in Annie’s mind.

      1. Fired with no severance. She’s the victim, it was so unfair, she was right all along and they’re just unfair corporate capitalist pigs. She is a fighter for justice and stands up to the haters but they pushed her out.
      2. Fired with severance. Shows she’s right, she fought for justice and won. Stood up to the haters.

      The goal can’t be to teach Annie a lesson. The goal just has to be to deal with her, and I think the company did it in the least expensive way possible.

      1. Observer*

        Excellent summary. I don’t think that the OP and their company ever had a chance to teach Annie a “lesson”, even if they cared to try.

  21. Delphine*

    I wonder why firing her didn’t seem to be an option. Was there anything that her lawyer (or “lawyer”) could actually hang on you or the company? “They made me read emails,” isn’t a reasonable claim.

    1. I should really pick a name*

      If they’re willing to resign, it’s just easier for the company.
      Even if they’re guaranteed to win a legal battle, it’s better not to have one.

      1. Observer*


        This stuff tends to take time. And if you need to get a lawyer to look at it, that’s also a cost.

        As long as the severance wasn’t large, it makes sense.

        1. NotRealAnonForThis*

          I imagine the thought was….

          Okay we can give Annie this much severance, and its STILL less than having our lawyers deal with this at their recharge rate of $XXX an hour.

      2. Zarniwoop*

        Court is expensive, but replying to a ridiculous lawyer letter with a “you’re kidding, right?” lawyer letter is pretty cheap and has a good chance of working.

    2. Wait but*

      Because if she takes severance and resigns, it is harder for her to come back at the company to claim she was unfairly fired. And she doesn’t get unemployment for quitting.

    3. WellRed*

      I kept reading the update expecting to get to the part where OP let her go but they … didn’t and then paid her to leave.

      1. AngryOctopus*

        But by doing so, they ensured that 1-she never comes back to this company and 2-she has zero legal standing, having accepted this settlement. It’s been said before, but sometimes it’s cheaper to solve a problem like this with money.

    4. Hiring Mgr*

      As others have mentioned it’s much easier just to give a severance and be done with it. Also, we are only hearing one side of the story. What Annie says to the lawyer is going to be much different than what the LW is telling us. (not that we don’t believe LW, but Annie is probably spinning it)

  22. Juicebox Hero*

    I have a slight grudging admiration for the Annies of the world, just because of the sheer amount of time, effort, and arrogance they’re willing to put into flouting the rules, when it would really just be easier on everyone including themselves if they’d JUST FOLLOW THE STUPID RULES ALREADY.

    I’m thinking of the time our property maintenance code officer from my town had to haul someone up in front of the magistrate for a violation. The person’s excuse was that he couldn’t get the initial letter, which was mailed to him, out of his mailbox because there was so much junk piled up on his porch that he couldn’t reach the mailbox. The citation, of course, was for having all kinds of junk piled up on his porch.

    The magistrate was not convinced, but he was amused.

    1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      Agreed. She won the battle. Great.
      Unless that severance is a trust fund, she will still need to find another job.
      Without having a job.

      1. Juicebox Hero*

        And unless she wises up in a hurry, she’ll lose that job sooner or later, too. Just read your emails and do what the boss tells you, and live in the real world, Annie.

  23. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

    Welp, something like this might explain why our communication policy states that everyone who has a work email address is required to check it at least once per shift? (Though I suppose Annie could then argue that CHECKING is not the same as READING.)

      1. JustaTech*

        There’s always that one weird thing in the handbook that says “this was a problem once and we’ve decided that it needs to go in the book even though it wouldn’t ever be an issue with reasonable people”.

        (That said, a lot of our manufacturing folks don’t necessarily had a lot of time to check their email during their shift so they probably do need a reminder to actually log in.)

        1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

          Yeah, I would never think of that in that position. Logging in is a pain. I know what I have to do.
          But tell me it’s a task for the day, ok.

    1. Warrior Princess Xena*

      If you’re in any sort of regulated field, this also prevents employees from having the excuse of “I didn’t see it/receive it” when employers send out required communications.

  24. SeagullGazer*

    I had a similar experience with an employee who we gave a lot of flex and grace as she demanded a lot of it, but who was so affronted when asked to actually complete her work and communicate when she would be out of office, that she began a no-show spiral and became incredibly hostile in a similar way to this letter.

    Some folks just see being held accountable as aggression.

    I did similarly to the letter writer, in that I tried to evaluate my management of her and be even more flexible, but that only meant when I held firm later, it was seen as a targeted act instead of level-setting our interactions.

    Oh well.

    1. higheredadmin*

      People who get flexible and/or wfh hours and then abuse it is why the rest of us can’t have nice things.

      1. SeagullGazer*

        Yes, in my case it meant my team and my allowances for them were scrutinized for ages after her continued stunts.. it sucked! I hate holding adults to arbitrary strict guidelines at work.

    2. Nea*

      A long time ago I worked with someone who considered business requests to be personal comments, so correcting her – or even asking something of her without a whole long “Good morning/how are you doing/any plans for the evening?” – was a personal attack.

  25. Vice Principal Jessica Day*

    Wow Annie really took issue with some minor negative feedback and torpedoed herself. OP was even chill about her not working during normal work hours! Doubling down on the email thing is wild!

  26. Michelle Smith*

    While I’m frustrated that she got severance out of this instead of being immediately fired for cause, I’m just going to call this a win anyway since you got rid of the problem. You handled it beautifully by the way, this is no criticism of you at all. I’m just always frustrated when it feels like someone gets rewarded (being allowed to resign with a payment rather than a swift boot out the door) for such bad behavior. But hey, she’s no longer your problem anymore so that’s a net positive for sure. I’m glad you can move on with your life!!

    1. Event coordinator?*

      Severance makes employees sign away their right to sue. Since Annie had a lawyer and was ready with a discrimination claim, severance was unfortunately the best way to make her go away.

    2. Santiago*

      Honestly, life is hard, so I appreciate it even buttheads have a cushion to break their fault. She still has the consequence of having to string together the next step.

    3. OP*

      I get that. When I first read the lawyer’s letter I was all fired up in my head thinking about how we would prove this or that point. And then I realized how much mental energy on my part that would take for an employee who has burnt the bridge on staying with us anyway.

      1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

        Yeah. Sometimes it is good to realize that the prize is not worth the fight.

      2. Sara without an H*

        I can relate. I worked in higher education for 35 years. Getting rid of unethical and/or non-performing faculty could involve either: 1) a court fight that went on for a couple of years, proving what a swine the faculty member was, or: 2) a generous severance package in exchange for “early retirement.”

        My heart always longed for Solution 1. My head had to agree that Solution 2 was best for the organization.

  27. Ex-prof*

    I have a feeling Annie will be generating AAM letters from her future coworkers and supervisors for decades to come.

  28. Dust Bunny*

    What the actual heck.

    I mean, if she can find an employer that meets her standards, great, but it doesn’t have to be yours.

  29. Butterfly Counter*

    I have to say, that any time I see and up date with “Buckle up,” in the first paragraph, I immediately do a careful reading of the first post like I’m studying for a test. And then I read the updates sitting bolt upright and hanging on every word.

  30. Frost*

    “Well of course you don’t have time for me.”

    Yeah, that’s a neg. I don’t believe that all negs are consciously intended to be such, but that type of language is absolutely an attempt to push the recipient into people pleasing mode.

    1. Observer*


      But this alone says that Annie was un-salvageable. I mean, who in their right mind reacts that way to the CEO not accepting your meeting request? Even if you’re pretty high up in the hierarchy, it’s a really inappropriate response. When you’re a relatively junior employee several layers down? She’s living in LaLa Land. I hope she learns something from her job hunt!

      1. New Jack Karyn*

        I agree with you, but I sort of thought that the company was fairly small, overall. Like, maybe 100 employees or so? Not un-possible that the CEO would be able to match the name to the face of a 5-year employee. There may be only 2-3 layers between Annie and the CEO.

        Annie’s still banana pants for this gesture alone, in addition to all the other nonsense.

      2. Csethiro Ceredin*

        We had a junior staff member ask for a meeting with the CEO to “discuss the future of the company”. I asked what she had in mind and she said she thought the work we do is too negative and she hoped we could move in another direction instead.

        We run remedial programs for various serious mental health or social issues. So I’m not sure what positive spin she was envisioning beyond the fact that we already try to help people do better.

        Strangely we were not open to changing literally everything about what we do.

    2. Susannah*

      I wondered about that – she seems like a not very high-level employee; on what planet does she think the CEO would have the time or inclination to meet with her?

      1. JustaTech*

        This is exactly the kind of thinking that got me in a huge argument with a coworker when she suggested that we talk to the COO and tell him why his idea was bad, and I said “I don’t have the audacity to do that!” and she didn’t know what audacity meant and then decided it meant “rudeness” and called me a jerk and didn’t speak to me for the rest of the day. (All over chat, of course.)

        Our director gets paid the big bucks to tell the COO that his idea is bad. No way am I sticking my neck out!
        (Maybe people in places with more reasonable upper management would have different reasons to not just try to hop onto the calendar of the C-suite.)

    3. Dust Bunny*

      Yeah, this is going to turn into playing whack-a-mole with grievances: Everything you say to her is going to be turned against you.

      I lose patience with people like this, like, immediately. Sorry, I’m generally a pretty reasonable person but if you’re not going to meet me part way I don’t have time for this.

  31. Clorinda*

    Mom energy: Zero.
    Boss energy: 100!
    I bet Annie’s friend who muttered “yes mom” under her breath has earned something here, even if Annie hasn’t.

  32. ENFP in Texas*

    “Rather than spending time and money on lawyers, we offered to accept her resignation with some severance pay, which she’s agreed to. Hopefully that’s the end of the saga.”

    Out of curiosity, was the information about the severance pay put in an email? I’ll wager she read THAT one.

    Annie is in for a very rude awakening in the real world.

    1. ConstantlyComic*

      Yeah, I can’t imagine any job that would be okay with an employee who refuses to read emails.

    2. OP*

      You cannot imagine the restraint it took for me not to say anything when the letter from the lawyer WAS AN EMAIL.

      1. I have RBF*

        LOL! Did she even read it, or did she just have the lawyer send it, I wonder…

        I think Annie is a petulant hypocrite.

        Good riddance to bad rubbish.

  33. Essess*

    I am quite disappointed that she was given severance. She was insubordinate to you and other upper management , refused to follow directions from HR, and refused to do her job duties (such as read email).

    By paying a severance, in her mind the company has acknowledged some fault.

    1. Two Dog Night*

      Yeah, but that was probably the quickest way to make her go away. Annie can think whatever she likes; she’s no longer this company’s problem.

      1. MsM*

        Also arguably the cheaper option, assuming Annie would’ve kept trying to pursue this in court until she exhausted all avenues.

    2. Cat's Paw for Cats*

      I actually would not have offered severance in this case. The path of least resistance, i.e. less legal hassle in this case, isn’t always the best path.

        1. Kevin Sours*

          The alternative is to tell Annie and their lawyer exactly where stick their bumptious threat letter. There is a balance between settling frivolous cases cheaply and avoiding a reputation as a soft touch. Striking this balance is the sort of thing that gets GCs paid.

          1. Observer*

            And what exactly would this have accomplished? Sending her off with a severance package is not going to get them the reputation of being a “soft touch”. I mean, Annie might think that she “won”, but she was never going to react reasonably anyway. If her lawyer is in the least bit competent, they also know that this response actually doesn’t mean a company that is a soft touch, but one that has their ducks in a row. So will other lawyers who hear about this.

            1. Kevin Sours*

              The alignment of their ducks is pretty irrelevant. If lawyers know a company is inclined to settle garbage cases because it’s cheaper than fighting them then they *will* push more garbage cases at them because it’s profitable for them to do so. An aggressive stance discourages this behavior. This is something I’ve heard from more than one GC. There is no one right answer here and philosophies of the most cost effective litigation strategy are all over the map. But it’s a real issue.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Exactly. When someone gets severance, they sign a release of any potential legal claims against the company, and that’s often well worth it to do (not because the person necessarily has any legitimate claims, but because you are paying them to go away and not continue hassling you). The point isn’t justice; the point is to solve a business problem efficiently.

    3. Observer*

      As others have pointed out, it’s not the company’s issue to “teach” Annie anything. In fact, I think it’s quite an overstep on the company’s part to even try.

      Also, what makes you think that actually firing her and then dealing with the ensuing hassles is going to change her mind? If they give her severance, the “admitted” fault. If they don’t give her severance and fire her, they “prove” that they are “mean” and were trying to “trap her.”

      When someone has fantasy narratives in their head it’s just not feasible to change that by finding just the right response. Because that narrative doesn’t really have anything to do with what the employer is doing.

    4. I should really pick a name*

      She can think what she wants. She’s still out a job and a reference.

  34. Trina*

    In the original letter there was also a second employee, Jane, who the OP thought they heard mutter “yes, mom” in response to a request or directive – I’m curious how Jane reacted to all this. Was she just feeding off of Annie’s unreasonableness, and with Annie gone she’s just a bog-standard employee who doesn’t have much work experience?

      1. OP*

        Sorry to disappoint! Jane moved on long before this whole tempest in a teacup brewed up. In an ironic twist of fate, Jane learned about the outside world and interviewed for another role on my team a few months later.

  35. Lyn*

    We use both email and TEAMS where I work and I have a co-worker who’s been here over 20 years and she “doesn’t do TEAMS”. Except when our 2nd in command (who does not work with us often) sends her a message in TEAMS. Then she uses TEAMS. Ahem.

    1. Dust Bunny*

      We do, too, and as much as I hate telephones you’d better believe I answer them. It’s part of the job.

      1. Warrior Princess Xena*

        I suffer from the Gen X stereotypical near-phobia of phone calls and I will still pick up the phone and call the client if that’s how the client wants to be contacted. That’s just the way work is.

    2. ConstantlyComic*

      Oooh yeah, I’ve got a coworker like that too. She’ll respond to emails outside of work hours, but I’m pretty sure she only checks Teams twice a day or so, which can be a bit of a problem because we use Teams for more urgent communication.

      1. Lenora Rose*

        I barely ever do more than open teams – unless I get a notification flag that there’s something new there. But I’ve found I see the notification flags pretty often when they happen (Which is less than email). Do people just not open it?

        1. ConstantlyComic*

          I’m not sure about in general, but I think my coworker just kind of… ignores the notifications?

        2. JustaTech*

          My boss managed to not see any notifications in Teams for quite a while – I don’t know how.
          Part of it was that Teams was rolled out to us badly in April 2020, and for some reason the other people on my team acted like being asked to use Teams for chat/files was tantamount to being boiled in oil. Which made me perversely *super* dedicated to using Teams (which would have been easier if we’d gotten actual training and if they hadn’t turned off like half of the functions).

          Honestly, if the most difficult software one has to use is Teams or email, count your blessings and be glad it’s not any regulatory or scientific software.

          1. I have RBF*

            I’ve worked at places that use Teams. IMO, Teams is craptastic enough that being asked to use Teams for chat/files was tantamount to being boiled in oil. I love Slack and IRC, tolerate Zoom chat, despise Discord and loathe Teams. They are all chat applications, but IMO the UIs for Teams and Discord just suck boulders through a cocktail straw.

  36. Your Computer Guy*

    Annie’s behavior is obviously absurd, but I deeply, deeply wish that I could opt out of reading emails.

    Now if you’ll all excuse me, I need to go check my email.

    1. Lenora Rose*

      I’m pretty sure my workplace would fall apart if nobody read emails or answered the phone. Like, Teams is nice and I can text for emergencies, but we would literally collapse.

      Of course we’re also scattered across myriad buildings…

      1. allathian*

        And I’m glad that I almost never get any phone calls in my job. I’ve had my current phone for a year, and I’ve only received one relevant phone call on it from my manager, before we got Teams on our phones (my employer issued everyone with a cellphone in 2005 when the organization’s desk phones were phased out, everyone got a smartphone in 2017).

        Teams calls are a weekly occurrence, though, and I’m fine with those because I can see who’s calling. I have auditory processing issues, meaning that unless I know you well enough to recognize your voice, I won’t catch your name when I answer the phone. It feels really embarrassing to ask who’s calling, especially if we’ve been talking for a while already. Our organization’s too big to have every employee’s phone numbers in your contact list, which also would have to be updated weekly, so it’s not going to happen.

  37. Belle of the Midwest*

    “I only read the document. I didn’t read your email. Everyone in this company communicates via chat, you can’t expect me to read emails.”

    Oh you sweet summer child. Your manager/supervisor/leader can absolutely expect you to read emails or printed memos or documents on reserve at the library or even the lost scrolls of Alexandria if that’s part of the requirements of the job.

    1. JustaTech*

      It’s not like it was “in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying ‘Beware of the Leopard.'”
      (Ah, Hitchhiker’s Guide.)

    2. I have RBF*

      Seriously. If my manager insisted on communicating by carrier pigeon I would have to learn how to do it, and also how to to clean up pigeon shit.

  38. Jade*

    Definitely an Annie problem. She will create trouble anywhere.

    But I do think “what’s up with that?” is snappish and inherently rude. I know A recommends it often but outside the most egregious situations it is rude. I’d never say it at work or in my personal life.

    1. New Jack Karyn*

      I think tone really matters on this one. If you can keep your tone gentle, or inquisitive, then it can work. Definitely not short, or sarcastic–you’re totally correct there.

      1. OP*

        I would not use that phrasing in a chat any more, but I do use it a lot out loud. With a smile and a gently questioning tone, it comes across like “fill me in – what have I missed about this topic?”

        1. Grith*

          “What am I missing here?” is my work-friendly way of saying “this seems stupid to me”. It’s been getting more and more use recently!

  39. Alex*

    Sorry Annie, but I don’t think you’ll find many jobs as flexible and with as reasonable and accommodating a boss as OP.

    So, why did you leave your last job?

    Well, my boss wanted to know when I was working and expected me to read emails! I clearly had to get out of that toxic environment!

  40. LCH*

    I think a college instructor on here also stated that students of their classes don’t read emails. So it sounds like an alarming trend that begins in college.

    Are we deciding that email is out or do colleges need to emphasize to students that, yes, they really do need to read the materials sent to them in various forms of communication? (Spoiler, I think it is this one, but since I’m over 40, I’m an old.)

    Because behaving towards it one way during college instruction and then another way in “the real world” isn’t great.

    1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      To deal with the volume, I finally had to ratchet my emails down to just those addressed to me personally (i.e. not part of a group) unless it’s from someone directly above me in the food chain.

      I don’t answer external calls or listen to voicemails, either, but I’m also in a role where the paper trail is, in some ways, more important than the work itself. Everything must be documented in writing to avoid lawsuits.

    2. HigherEdAdminista*

      It is definitely true that the students aren’t reading their emails. We have some things that require precise instructions to access and still we field calls and emails every week from someone who skimmed for the access link, but didn’t read the bolded text advising them there was crucial access information above it.

      1. Newly minted higher ed*

        after every class, I send out an announcement that is also emailed that summarizes what we did in class and lists out their homework. much of the class, whether they were present or not, will email anyway asking what we did in class and what is the homework. or ask me for a meeting. sure, give me some times and days I’ll ask. they reply with an outlook suggested reply, usually ‘see you then!’. they initiated the email and don’t read my replies.

        the resulting chain of emails to sort out then turns them off email further, thereby making the miscommunication worse.

        I wish they’d read their emails. there’s an entire section in orientation on it.

        1. LCH*

          wow, have things changed! i… had to go to class to get this info? or look at the syllabus? i can’t imagine going to class and then asking, hey, what happened in class today. um…

          1. JustaTech*

            You Read the Syllabus? Shocking! (According to my professor friends, who are convinced that 80% of their students think that they’d burst into flames if they read the syllabus.)

            I do remember being very unimpressed with a professor who had an AOL address (that she asked us to send our homework to), back in 2004.

      2. Clorinda*

        So they didn’t read the email that told them how to do the thing, and then they sent you an email asking how to do the thing? Hmmm.

    3. higheredadmin*

      I can confirm in HE we have a huge issue with students not reading emails, despite this being laid out to them as a requirement.

      1. Event coordinator?*

        Totally agree that students are a tough group to get to read emails, but Annie is FIVE YEARS into this job.

        Life is gonna be tough for Annie.

    4. Lily Potter*

      My church hired someone to do outreach to Young Adults (18-30). I knew almost immediately that he wasn’t going to be successful at his job when he told me that he couldn’t figure out why the YA’s weren’t flocking in the doors. His “marketing” campaign leaned almost exclusively on email blasts. I told him that if he wanted to get YA’s attention, he’d absolutely need to include a text messaging component. He blew me off, apparently thinking that the 5-year old Yahoo or Hotmail email that the YA’s gave the church during their confirmation was the best way to reach them. Sigh.

    5. rural academic*

      Every college / university has its own culture, but at mine, we constantly advise students to read their email, and all sorts of crucial messages from instructors and staff (like, registration deadlines, etc.) go to their email. I don’t give students my personal number and won’t text with them. The trend doesn’t begin in college, it begins before college; they are coming out of high school not accustomed to reading email.

  41. marvin*

    I missed the original letter, so I was expecting the “mom energy” to be in the form of bringing in baked goods and getting overly invested in reports’ personal lives. I wasn’t ready for this.

  42. LCH*

    I’m also assuming the new hiring on-boarding or training or whatever specifies that this company uses email and employees are expected to read their emails! It should be in training materials, the handbook, whatever so you can point to it when you have someone like this.

    1. Observer*


      If you have someone who is going to try to rules lawyer stuff, they are going to do so regardless.

      It just makes no sense to create rule books based on unreasonable people. Nor is it a good idea to make rule books that cater to the idea that if there is not a specific rule or policy about a thing, no one can do anything about it. That’s one of the most toxic management ideas out there. And it is something that is heavily weaponized by toxic / lazy / incompetent managers and / or HR and / or staff.

      1. MsM*

        Yeah, someone who needs it explained to them “you have to read your emails” when the company has assigned them their own company email address is going to run into issues – whether real or invented – that no rule book or training process can possibly be comprehensive enough to cover. (Assuming they even bother paying attention or don’t pull Annie’s “I felt pressured to agree” stunt.)

      2. Kevin Sours*

        I’d agree that nothing is going to stop a toxic individual from doing their thing. But with training/onboarding you have to meet people where they are. If you have a lot of people coming in unaccustomed to checking email then it’s not worth standing on principle to avoid “stating the obvious”.

        Moreover given the vast number of communications tools available these days it’s probably good practice to set expectations for which ones are primary for your organization both in general and at the specific team level instead of just assuming everybody has the same understanding or can pick it up via osmosis.

        1. Lenora Rose*

          We don’t know if this business does have “a lot of people coming in unaccustomed to checking email”. That seems to be conflating a mindblowingly bad issue with one employee with the discussion in the comments about students.

          I’ve never seen an employee handbook that had to specify the common modes of communication. I can imagine it becoming more of a thing as more communication options open up, and I even think it’s a good idea, but it’s not necessarily applicable to the OP.

          1. Kevin Sours*

            It absolutely would have done nothing here. I’m not even thinking it needs to be an employee handbook issue. But at conversation on “this is how often we expect you to check your email” seems like a good idea in a world where a lot of immediate communication is going over various chat apps.

    2. LCH*

      handbooks include all sorts of things that seem obvious (such as, come to work when you are scheduled!) this can just be an extra item. like, hey, maybe you didn’t grow up using email. we use email, a lot, you will use it too.

      just a thought for the newer generations.

  43. Aphrodite*

    Sometimes there are posts here that make me cringe because they remind me of stupid things I did and said at the office in the past.

    Then there are these–where I breathe a sigh of relief and say to myself, “At least I never did anything like that!”

  44. Seconds*

    “She then was trying to rules-lawyer the document because one part I had outlined wasn’t in her contract or the employee guide”

    Does that imply that everything else WAS in the contract or the employee guide? And that Annie knew, off the top of her head, what was and what wasn’t there? In other words, she knew she was objecting to the basic terms of her employment?

    1. OP*

      I think it was phrased something like, “Well I don’t see that in the employee guide, I’ll have to check my contract.” Completely bananapants.

  45. BlondeSpiders*

    This part caught my eye:

    HR had to tell her that as her boss, I was also allowed to request her to do things not specifically written down somewhere else.

    I handle all contractors for my firm, and work with manager son job description for contract roles. We had to learn (the hard way!) to add “Other duties as assigned” to every list of duties because people would come back and argue, “that wasn’t in the job description!” Once we made that decision, I had to go into about 80 JDs to add that bullet point. People still argue, but at least our A is covered.

  46. Lady Blerd*

    I should learn by now what when an LW says any variations to “buckle up”, it really is going to be truly bananapants.

  47. Another academic Librarian*

    Thanks for the update. Reminded me of a report I inherited who had been in position for 5 years.
    She did not read or respond to email.
    She did not answer her phone or listen or respond to voicemail.
    Documenting her not doing the work of her position was a part-time job AND she was in-person in a workstation right outside my office.
    She filed grievance after grievance about my micro-managing abusive behavior. Fortunately there were others in the office who could attest that this was all fantasy.
    Your letter reminded me that any time I verbally asked her to do something she would reply slightly snarky tone”yes, boss.”
    This irritated me but it seemed petty to address given the all of the other issues.
    Year and half PIP.

    1. Special K*

      Year and a half seems excessive, could I ask why it couldn’t have been dealt with in 3-6 months?

  48. Lobsterman*

    The only way that differed from what I expected is that OP’s company actually got rid of Annie instead of OP.

  49. I have RBF*

    When she came back, it was with a letter from her lawyer demanding that we retract the warning. Aside from accusations about retaliation on my part and saying that she’d been forced to sign the document, she also doubled down on it being unreasonable to expect her to read emails – in her version, I was laying a trap by sending the document via email.

    Some companies I’ve worked at would have taken her previous insubordination, PIP failure, and lawyer threats as three strikes and she would have been fired, without severance. If she tried to sue, the lawyer would have received all the documentation in discovery.

    You guys were way nicer than most places I’ve worked.

    1. NotAnotherManager!*

      Yep. The insubordination alone would have had Annie spending some quality time with our HR person reviewing the policy manual and confirming that she understood. One of the things I respect so much about our current leadership, especially HR, is that they hold managers to a high standard, but they also support us when we have an Annie on our hands.

      Severance is often offered in exchange for signing a waiver or release. As galling as it is to pay the Annies of the world severance, it’s less expensive than getting to the discovery phase. (And, as the litigators I worked with would tell you, it just takes one or two people on the jury to sympathize with Annie – reasonable or not – and you lose.)

  50. Another Alison*

    Drama aside, your response to the “mom thing” was *chef’s kiss* perfect. Channeling Alison 100%.

  51. Anonymous for this*

    I managed an employee like this and it was the most exhausting year and a half of my career. I’m glad yours is out of your hair, this kind of thing unfortunately can’t be fixed.

    They use your reasonableness, candor and willingness to be fair and against you. They go over your head when they don’t get the response they want and respond hotly to very tame correction. It’s crazy making and it’s hard to root that toxicity out of your approach to other people. You’ll have to actively work at it to not let this color how you manage other people.

    Looking back I realize their (both my former employee and maybe Annie’s) only goal in every situation is making sure that everyone only ever thinks and speaks highly of them, because they’re unsure of themselves and don’t know how to appropriately handle a setback or even mild criticism. It’s big for them, like a threat to their safety would be for others. They make it big for others.

    I may be reading too much into this one from my experience, but, really, I could have written most of this letter. The only viable solution was to part ways. I really do wish Annie the best somewhere else, hopefully with some support and a good sounding board for professional situations. Permanently living in this hostility sounds so frustrating and chaotic.

  52. Ardis Paramount*

    Excuse me, I seem to have dropped my jaw somewhere around here, can you help me find it?

  53. Susannah*

    On college students not emailing…The thing is – this isn’t a question of whether email is old-fashioned and texting or whatever is the modern thing. This is a student, being INSTRUCTED that important info is in email, and refusing to do it. Why? Does a student think the professor will chase after him or her to make sure they know what they need to know? You think this works with your boss?
    I have an acquaintance I invited to a catered, need-RSVP party at our home, through a printed invite sent to his home (and he knew in general about the party, as it was discussed in our work group). Never responded to the invite, so we assumed he wasn’t coming. Day before the event (and 3 weeks after invite sent), he texts to ask if party is still going on. Yep, but we had you down as a no, since you hadn’t bothered to respond. He claims (for the second time, with a printed invite) that he never got the piece of mail. Which was a lie – he couldn’t be bothered to open his mail, even one that was clearly a personal invitation. Guess he expected us to make a special text for him so he didn’t have to go to the bother. We just don’t invite him to things anymore if we need an actual head count.

  54. slaying holofernes*

    Wow! This one was dramtic and quite satisfactory to read. I like the verbiage used as I often have a hard time “in the moment” coming u p with the right things to say to difficult personalities.

  55. None of your business*

    “so I wanted to flag it for you.” feels like it took your entire authority away. Just state facts as facts.

    Also, that is horrible buzzspeak that makes me SO GLAD I don’t work in corporate.

Comments are closed.