update: my employee blows up my phone with memes and videos — even in the middle of the night — and refuses to stop

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.

There will be more posts than usual this week, so keep checking back throughout the day.

Remember the letter-writer whose employee was blowing up her phone with memes and videos — even in the middle of the night — and refused to stop? Here’s the update.

I’m happy to share an update. You were certainly right about Lisa.

I directly instructed her to stop sending memes and she became very unhappy at work and began complaining.

Her neediness took on a new form cloaked in more professional excuses, and she requested meeting after meeting where she complained about not feeling supported or loved. She told stories about past bosses who threw house parties, bosses who wanted hourly texts, and slowly explained that maybe I just don’t know how to be a boss, since I worked at a sandwich shop in high school. In my decade of owning a business, this was the first time any employee had just straight up insulted my work experience to my face.

Finally, I couldn’t attend yet another meeting and she quit. She quit via email 12 minutes before a full day of client appointments. She must have snuck into my business in the middle of the night to take home her things. I was relieved because I thought it was over.

Unfortunately, she continues to find excuses to stay in touch even now, months later. First, she didn’t receive her final paycheck in the mail, so I allowed her to stop by in person and she brought her kid and it took an hour to get her out. Then, she emailed saying she’d left an item (think a small item like a Tupperware lid or clipboard) and wanted to stop by to look for it. I responded strongly, telling her in no uncertain terms I did not have her item and that she was not to stop by. Next she had a friend (who was never a customer) leave fake reviews on my business Google and Yelp pages, writing that Lisa was the best employee we’d ever had.

Now she’s emailing again saying a tool I once bought her needs repair—will I send the SKU on the receipt? Problem is, we buy a lot from this supplier and she didn’t even tell me which month it was purchased so I’d have to go through a year of receipts in detail in the hopes of finding this for her. It would take me at least 2-3 hours to deal with this and I feel that her new employer should be buying or repairing her tools, not me.

So far I haven’t responded at all. I am worried now that any response will encourage her to keep engaging. I truly don’t understand why she won’t just go away.

{ 233 comments… read them below }

  1. Tio*

    I find it highly unlikely that any repair shop needs the exact sku of a tool from a receipt to properly fix it. Please keep ignoring her! Every time you do respond she’s going to keep doing things like this. Might be best to block her number.

    1. Rainy*

      Yeah, I think unfortunately this is one of those things where responding at all, even after many tries from Lisa, just teaches her how many attempts will result in a response.

      If she keeps going, though, it might be worth hiring a lawyer to write a cease and desist so that LW can start laying the groundwork for a restraining order to keep Lisa from contacting or visiting the business.

        1. sofar*

          I immediately thought of “Gift of Fear,” too. The most useful part of that book (which, yes, I know is a bit victim-blamey at parts) was this: You have to NEVER respond to the person who is exhibiting this behavior. Even if you wait 6 months to respond to the person (thinking you’re clearly setting a boundary), all they’ve learned is that it takes 6 months of pestering you to get a response — and they’ll pester you more persistently to try to get a response “sooner the next time.”

    2. Peanut Hamper*

      Most tools are going to have the model number on them somewhere, and that’s what a repair shop actually needs. The SKU varies from supplier to supplier.

    3. Juicebox Hero*

      Anything big I’ve ever had to have repaired (car, appliances, computers), I’ve never needed the receipt or SKU. My Subaru Crosstrek is going to need the same replacement oil filter whether I bought it at the dealership or from my neighbor.

      It’s just another trick on Lisa’s part to take advantage of OP’s good nature to try and make them waste time on a pointless job, and an attempt to get her hooks back into OP.

    4. Artemesia*

      yeah she is now officially a stalker and the only way to deal is to ignore. ANY acknowledgement will just encourage her. I hope you were able to get the fake reviews taken down.

    5. Just Another Zebra*

      So I deal with some of our tech’s tool repairs, and if it’s an issue of fixing this under warranty, they’ll want the SKU to determine age / purchase date. However, SKU is usually on the tool. Lisa is just continuing the same poor behavior, and OP does not have to engage.

    6. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      Depending on the tool, outright replacement might be the best way to handle the situation as well.

    7. Stacy*

      I was thinking it’s more like she can get it repaired for free if the purchase was within the last year, which you would need the receipt to prove.

      But either way, OP is not required to assist with this. Lisa or her new employer can pay for the repair costs, or buy themselves a new one with their own money.

      1. Tio*

        Yeah, if OP bought her an entire tool and let her keep it after she left, she can pay to repair it. That’s the cost of misbehaving, and OP should not engage further.

    8. Quill*

      Yeah, also. Tools get resold all the time. If the SKU is needed, it’s probably on the tool! If it’s not, the model number, also on the tool, is probably all the info needed.

    9. goddessoftransitory*

      Yep; block and ignore was made for times like this and people like Lisa.

      “Supported and loved???” Lady, this isn’t a preschool story hour.

  2. Falling Diphthong*

    Any response will encourage her to keep engaging.
    You hit the nail on the head here.

    I’d suggest looking up stuff about “grey rocking” where you mostly don’t respond, and if you truly have to respond it’s along the lines of “hmm, afraid I can’t help you with that.”

    If it helps, I suspect Lisa, besides being very needy, wants to Be Right. So she has to keep contacting you because you haven’t yet acknowledged that she is right and you are wrong. And she goes around in a little circle, each time coming back to “OP didn’t make me feel like she knows I am right. I need to get in touch with her so we can try again.” And back she comes.

    1. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      Even if this is true in Lisa’s case, even acknowledging that she is right won’t help, because she’ll soon need to come back for more reassurance. She’ll learn that LW is a source of reassurance and will keep on coming back. So, grey rocking is the way to go here.

    2. Florp*

      Yeah, my first thought. Block her, and if she gets around it somehow, grey rock grey rock grey rock.

    3. goddessoftransitory*

      I totally agree. She pulled the “quit before I was fired” thing but knows that she was/is not missed and can’t bear the reality that her former workplace was very happy to see the back of her. If she can get the LW to reengage, she can write an alternate narrative where her behavior wasn’t outrageous/morphing into felony.

  3. DisneyChannelThis*

    Wow she sounds obsessive. No response is the best response. Stalker type behavior, they learn that if you reply after 10 voicemails then they need at least 10 voicemails to get the response and will keep going. Definitely mute or block her contact on your phones.

    1. ENFP in Texas*

      She doesn’t need the SKU and your personal and professional obligations to her are finished. Block her and do not reply.

      1. Hans Solo*

        This. I like this response in particular despite many responses here saying basically the same thing, just because it is short and to the point.

    1. Escapee from Corporate Management*

      Yes!!! Lisa is neither an employee nor a customer. Cut her off 100%.

    2. LCH*

      yes, and make sure all your other employees know not to engage her (at least at work. if they want to hang out with her outside of work, well…)

  4. pally*

    My take: maintain radio silence.

    She’s hoping you’ll ask her to return to work for you. So she’s creating ‘opportunities’ for you to make that happen.

    1. MissGirl*

      I bet you’re right. She thought by quitting, OP would beg her to stay and finally appreciate her. She wasn’t expecting her quitting to actually be a relief.

      1. Nameo*

        I didn’t even think of this, but you’re so right! That’s why she quit on a day full of client meetings – to maximize the chances of OP begging her to stay!

  5. Juicebox Hero*

    You’ve got a lot more patience than I do. She’s lucky you didn’t fire her after she told you you don’t know how to be a manager (because you don’t provide her with a personal life?? That’s not what a manager is for, Lisa!)

      1. Jan*

        That jumped out at me too. Where’s she worked before that she thinks managers are required to love you?!

        1. Juicebox Hero*

          My manager did once tell me she loves me, but it was on the phone, she was distracted, and forgot she wasn’t talking to her daughter XD

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        The second I read that phrase I thought Okay, Lisa, you want a LOT more than a job is going to give you.

        I’ve been where I work for centuries, and last month they had an awards day for employees, where I received an nice plaque and praise and felt very valued, it was great! THAT kind of thing is appropriate to both give and to desire as an employee. Support and love you need to get from family, friends and therapy.

      3. Festively Dressed Earl*

        Not only will your job never love you back, your job should never love you back. At least not via house party.

    1. Irish Teacher*

      And she doesn’t know how to be a manager because of the part-time job she had as a high schooler? That makes…no sense whatsoever.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        Most negging doesn’t. It’s designed to be so bewildering and sharp you don’t go “wait though…” until later, if ever.

    2. rebelwithmouseyhair*

      I’m very patient too and I have learned that it is possible to be too patient. For me, it meant I was given all the hopeless cases at school, which in turn made me feel like a hopeless teacher and the burnout scars are still there.
      OP, you too have too much patience. You no longer owe Lisa anything, you can safely block her everywhere. Don’t take crap from your employees like that!

  6. I edit everything*

    She sounds exhausting, even now. As others have said, blocking her is the way forward here. It might feel rude, but it will put your mind at ease. She’s no longer your employee, and you do not have to accommodate her in any way or remain a part of your life.

    1. The Shenanigans*

      Yup, block her number, social media, all of it. Block friends who reach out. Contact Yelp etc., and get their help in taking down the false reviews and blocking the reviewers. If she escalates or you feel unsafe, well, that’s what a restraining order is for. But hopefully, just putting up a wall will do the trick. So sorry you are dealing with this.

    2. GreyjoyGardens*

      I’m exhausted just reading about her! I agree, block Lisa on every platform she can contact you – phone, social media, everything. Do not engage. She will drain you dry. But if she figures out she can no longer drain you dry she’ll find a new victim.

  7. Lenora Rose*

    Block her. Don’t reply when she finds access around the blocks, even to ask her not to do that. Grey rock when you absolutely must respond; a complete lack of emotion or interest will be more deflating for this behaviour than getting angry.

    She is not being normal, or healthy.

    1. Observer*

      Don’t reply when she finds access around the blocks, even to ask her not to do that.

      That’s the one exception. Because if the OP needs to take stronger action down the road, one question is going to be “did you tell her”. And the fact that the went around blocks will often be waved away with “well, social awkwardness, blah, blah, blah.”

      Thus a SINGLE response when she gets around a block is warranted. The next time she does that, though, is different and your suggestion is sound.

    2. High Score!*

      If she finds ways around the blocks more than once then get a restraining order.

  8. mb*

    Man, this sucks. I, too, have been subjected to the “you’re terrible at what you do and/or you’re a terrible person” speeches when it didn’t work out with an employee, usually one who didn’t take feedback very well, even when cloaked with the least offensive wording (i.e. it’s such an easy mistake to make, I’ve done it myself).
    Definitely block her on everything – phone, social media, email. At this point, there is no justifiable reason for her to contact you.

  9. Becky S*

    Yes, block her and ignore her. Expect her to ramp things up in response, since she’s had you trained to respond to her. She’s not the least bit concerned about upsetting you!

      1. Sparkles McFadden*

        Yup…that’s next up in the stalker playbook. Don’t be surprised if someone who doesn’t even know Lisa tells you “Someone named Lisa called me saying she was worried about you because she couldn’t get in touch with you.”

        Sadly, these people only stop after they’ve glommed on to someone else.

  10. Peanut Hamper*

    When I read the original post, I kept hearing Tommy Wiseau shouting “You’re tearing me apart, Lisa!” And now I’m hearing it again.

    Lisa is just an exhausting person. No wonder she does this at work. She’s probably driven off any friends she ever had. Whatever is wrong with her, it’s in no way the boss’s responsibility to fix.

    1. Aggretsuko*

      Yeah, she desperately needs love and companionship…and then drives everyone away. Sigh.

  11. RJ*

    Do not engage and do not response. You are a great boss but this is an example of a very clinging and co-dependent now ex-employee where any sort of action/response in her direction will encourage and feed her her compulsion. I am so very glad she is no longer working for you.

  12. Athenae*

    I had a pair of volunteers who were like this, who we told not to come back due to total incompetence at customer service and hostility to feedback. Think like greeters, whose only task is to be welcoming and friendly. They were not. They were offputting, rude, unhelpful, and insistent that they could not be fired since they were volunteering.

    I told them they were no longer needed at our organization. They called for MONTHS to complain that they had worked SO HARD and I was being SO MEAN and I OWED THEM a chance to … I dunno, keep screwing up? Daily phone calls, for several months. They enlisted other volunteers to plead their case as well.

    It ended when I threatened to get a restraining order. To this day I still can’t believe they acted like this.

    1. pally*



      Clearly, they’ve got little else going in their lives. Which is sad, but not something you must remedy.

    2. Mackenna*

      I’ve got a good one too… In vague terms so as to not be too recognisable on the internet, I work in a media-adjacent field. 18 years or so ago, a publisher related to our company published an article on the internet that reported on a court decision. A man, Dwight (not his real name) objected to some of the facts cited in the article, and wrote to complain. His letter wasn’t entirely au fait with reality, so it was ignored. He sent a follow up letter, attaching his original letter, and adding further complaints. It too was ignored.

      This absolutely outraged him, and so he created a fax cover sheet with the notation ‘To be faxed until a response is received’ and re-sent the letter by fax. That too was ignored. But, it turns out that he is as good as his word, and he has been re-faxing the letter on a regular basis ever since. Although, it has now grown from a five page fax to almost 18 pages, because he now includes as well the fax confirmation printouts listing all the times and dates he has sent the fax, with the number of times he has sent it counted up and hand-totalled at the bottom. This total grows bigger by the page, obviously.

      At one point he googled our company name and found several alternative fax numbers listed, and he tried them all a few times each to see if he could finally get a response. However, faxes at my company are received and processed as emails, and these would inevitably find their way to my boss once again, who would delete them again, as he has done for the past 18 years. The total as of late last year was almost 19,000 re-sends of this fax.

      I haven’t seen it recently, and this thread has brought it to mind, so I quickly googled him while writing this comment and can’t find any recent activity on the internet. I am wondering if the faxes have apparently only stopped now because he may have passed away.

      1. Mercurial*

        Nineteen THOUSAND???? That’s bananapants, shoes, socks, shirt, jacket and jaunty matching bananahat.

      2. I&I*

        Pretty spectacular … but also actually a good example of the de Becker ‘do not engage’ tactic. Dwight was an annoyance, but not an actual threat, so what happened when he was consistently ignored? He continued to do the annoying thing, which the company was able to deal with, and didn’t escalate to anything worse. That’s a win. A nuisance for the company, and a pity for Dwight that this is what his life was like, but it being no worse than that is definitely the best outcome.

      3. Athenae*

        I cannot with this stuff. I really think we need to rethink all the old stories about showing up and sitting on somebody’s doorstep until they hire you because … that’s not a good idea! Ever!

    3. FitPro not Fitspo*

      Any time I encounter something like this, I remind myself that the real surprise is that this behavior has been positively reinforced at some point in the person’s life.

  13. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

    You’ve got a loony stalker.
    Strict grey rock and hope she finds someone else to obsess over.

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      If it were getting printed on single sheets of paper that’s 38 reams –closing in on four cartons. plus more because of confirmations. Wow.

  14. Lacey*

    Wow. That’s… a lot.

    Yeah, you do just have to ignore or block her. There’s nothing else you can do that will work.

    1. Michelle Smith*

      I think involving the legal system is an option that has the possibility of working. If she escalates to coming in person again, consider telling her that she must leave to avoid trespass charges and if she doesn’t, either call the police in the moment or go through the process of getting a civil restraining order. Please don’t feel like you just have to take someone’s harassment forever.

      1. Lacey*

        Yeah, if she takes to showing up in person because she’s been blocked in other ways, it is time to threaten legal action. Which… probably will scare her off?

        1. MsM*

          And if it doesn’t, well, that’s about as clear a sign as it gets that you’re going to have to take legal action.

  15. Bend & Snap*

    Read the gift of fear…there’s a whole section on this and it tells you how to respond (spoiler: it’s to not respond).

  16. Aphrodite*

    She’ll. go away when she finds someone else to latch onto and not until then. I’d say to continue to ignore her, to never respond to anything–and, for your own sake, to stop looking at anything she posts or sends. Just wait her out. And give an honest reference if you are asked for one; no sense passing the problem along to another employer.

  17. Charlotte Lucas*

    This reads like classic stalker behavior to me. I recommend that you don’t just block her but document everything, too. Someone mentioned a cease-and-desist letter. I think that’s a good idea, but you might want to look into a restraining/protection order, too. It seems like a lot, but she is clearly trying not just to annoy you & waste your time but also ruin your business.

      1. Fikly*

        Your ability to tell the difference between someone who is annoying and someone who is dangerous is quite impressive!

        1. design ghost*

          And in a lot of cases judges (the people who actually issue restraining orders) will think the same as Becky S. Lisa has not actually posed a threat. She hasn’t physically showed up at the business after being told not to, and has made what looks like only 3 attempts to contact LW over the course of months after leaving the job. Annoying, yes. Scary? Sure. But dangerous?

          1. Peanut Hamper*

            We don’t actually know that, though, do we? LWs are not required to send a day-by-day report of everything that has happened; most updates are summaries of what has happened. So there may be other actions that we don’t know about.

          2. Lisa’s Ex-Boss*

            Since writing this letter, I have bumped into Lisa in person, she was on her way to eat at the restaurant next door to my business. It was about an hour after close and I just happened to have been working late.

            She has also followed up on the SKU request, re-forwarding the original email across the company.

            1. I should really pick a name*

              Please address the company and tell them not to respond.
              Also, have IT prevent her from being able to do that again.

            2. Sarah M*

              You may have just happened to be working late, but Lisa did not just “happen” to be there. This new information makes me very nervous on your behalf, OP. Please take the advice of others with re: blocking, a cease and desist (nastygram), etc. Stay safe!

              1. Observer*

                Yeah. It’s highly likely that this was NOT a “just happened” to be encounter.

                It reminds me of the poster who mentioned that her mother “just happened” to bump into the Poster’s CEO to talk to CEO about Poster. People didn’t believe it then, and I don’t believe it now either.

                Please let everyone to NOT respond to any emails / calls / messages from her, but to record anything. Please keep a record of everything. All of her messages to not get a response, but automatically go into a repository / folder so you have a record if needed. And given what you are saying, you might just need it!

            3. Kella*

              Please document this incident and don’t assume it was an accident. Best case scenario, she went to that restaurant hoping to bump into you and got lucky. Worst case scenario, she was waiting until you left the building to approach.

        2. Artemesia*

          Courts don’t grant restraining orders without credible evidence someone is dangerous.

        3. Hans Solo*

          A judge will not grant a restraining order based on this, so the snark is not necessary.

        4. Coconutty*

          Well, there’s absolutely nothing in the letter to suggest that Lisa is dangerous. Becky S is correct. Lisa is inappropriate and frustrating, no question about that, but that is not what restraining orders are for.

      2. Peanut Hamper*

        That’s not quite true. You can get one if someone is harassing you, and this definitely sounds like harassment/stalker behavior.

        1. design ghost*

          This also isn’t quite true. That depends on where you live and how robust the laws against stalking/harassment are there. In many places harassment with no specific threat of violence is explicitly not grounds for a restraining order.

          And honestly, even in places with better laws about these kinds of things, a former employee trying to contact their old boss 3 times in a few months probably wouldn’t be enough to qualify as harassment, and almost definitely wouldn’t be enough for a restraining order.

      3. Rainy*

        I agree that a restraining order would be overkill right now, but starting the paper trail could make a huge difference if she does become dangerous later or if she escalates from personally annoying to business-damaging annoying.

        1. Rick T*

          Having her friends post false reviews of the business puts Lisa on the razor edge of that line.

          1. MsSolo (UK)*

            I feel like the fact she’s got them (or herself with sockpuppet accounts) saying positive things about herself rather than trashing the business makes me think this isn’t her first rodeo, and she knows that fake negative reviews are higher risk for legal action.

      4. design ghost*

        They’re also not easy to get even when someone is dangerous. It bugs me every time I see people throwing “get a restraining order” as a suggestion, as if that’s something you can just do.

        1. Charlotte Lucas*

          My understanding is that it really, really depends on where you live & what the available options are.

          But Lisa’s behavior already reads as threatening to me. The fact that she entered the business in the middle of the night to get her stuff is super creepy, & I hope the OP has changed the locks.

          1. JustaTech*

            Getting a restraining order can also depend on your age – once you’re over a certain age (I think it might vary by state) you’re considered a “vulnerable adult” and it’s easier to get a restraining order.
            (Easier, not easy.)
            But I don’t think that applies here.

        2. Hans Solo*

          I actually had two for my ex husband and NEITHER were ever served to him. He worked from home and the sheriff couldn’t figure out how to serve him. Ridiculous.

          1. Lenora Rose*

            I’m confused. (not by you, I absolutely believe you; by the sheriff). Can you not serve someone at home? Is that not a common place a person is served a legal order when required?

            1. New Jack Karyn*

              I suspect that the deputies knocked on the door, and he refused to answer. The deputies then shrugged and said “What are ya gonna do?” and left. Repeat 3 times, then desist.

            2. iliketoknit*

              I think the point was that yes, he should have been served at home, and that he was easy to find b/c of wfh, but that sheriff never bothered.

            3. Rainbow*

              The time I looked into how getting one would work should I need it (luckily I have been fine without!), it would have been a lot easier to do at work since it could have been tricky for the law to track this guy’s address down. Maybe it’s literally about finding out where “home” is.

            4. 123*

              Yeah, that story makes no sense. The laws vary by state, but the person doesn’t get to just avoid service by not answering the door. Most jurisdictions allow the court papers to be dropped at a person’s doorstep if they refuse to accept them, and some places allow the server to literally tape the papers to the recipient’s door if they refuse to answer.

              The notion that a sheriff “couldn’t figure out” how to serve him is indeed ridiculous. More likely, they never even bothered to try.

      5. JB*

        Annoying can easily escalate to dangerous, especially if they’re not getting a reaction or the reaction they want. People like this don’t think about the collateral damage or consider the collateral damage to be major enough to step down, and Lisa is already getting the business caught up in her obsession.

      6. Dust Bunny*

        A lot of people are only annoying until they are dangerous.

        At least document all of this.

    1. I&I*

      Annoying-versus-dangerous aside, it would lock Lisa’s attention on the OP and engage her in a contest of wills, just as the moment when the OP is trying to get Lisa to disengage and take her attention elsewhere.

      One thing Gavin de Becker (who’s already been recommended in this thread) points out: if someone is an edge case, escalating the situation can actually push someone over the line from an annoyance to a threat. At the moment Lisa still seems to want positive attention; a restraining order may change that to wanting revenge.

      The likeliest good outcome for the OP is that Lisa will find a more rewarding target to focus her neediness on. But if the OP outrages her with a restraining order, it seems a lot less likely that Lisa will find anything else compelling enough to make her forget about harassing the OP. Play it safe and ignore her.

      1. Mild Accountant*

        I wouldn’t have thought of it that way, but this makes a whole lot of sense to me! (I actually had the same reaction of “girl get you a restraining order” – to be honest, just reading this story makes me want to get a restraining order against Lisa.) You’re right – at the very least, Lisa isn’t explicitly threatening towards OP right now, and given that law enforcement has a spotty record at best when dealing with stalkers, it’s worth considering the risks of getting law enforcement involved.

        (That said, if Lisa escalates further, yes, involve law enforcement!)

      2. Katydid*

        The other thing I remember from The Gift of Fear is that restraining orders are more likely to work on people who respect the law, and have no positive effect on those who do not (though they can, as you say, enrage such people).

        Which category best fits Lisa?

    2. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

      I’d be concerned that sending her a letter or trying to get a restraining order would actually amp up her contacts. She’d be emailing and texting every day to meet to clear things up. I think blocking and gray-rocking are a better approach.

    3. JSPA*

      You don’t need a restraining order to ban someone from a business. A certain grocery chain used to ban people on the regular for taking any sort of picture inside the store! Defy the ban, and they can literally call the cops and have the cops walk you out.

      (Needless to say, I stopped shopping there when my “which of these sorts of apples would you prefer” text to a friend was met with ejection from the store, and threat of a permanent ban.)

      NB, they don’t need a reason–unless their own company policy says they do, or unless the reason is fairly blatantly based on protected characteristics.

  18. Zzzzzz*

    Whatever her reasons for continuing to reach out, I don’t understand why you haven’t blocked her email and phone number at this point.

    1. LCH*

      Same. All I can think is that LW still has information they need to send Lisa as a former employee (tax stuff, whatever?) But you can still block her and provide this material. Are there any other legitimate reasons a former employee would need to contact an employer? I guess to update an address or get a reference. But I don’t think Lisa will be getting a reference.

      1. Zzzzzz*

        Lisa doesn’t technically need anything else from this company that any other former employee wouldn’t get in the mail at the start of the new tax submission season; any new employer would reach out to the company to confirm employment dates.

    2. Kara*

      I can only speak for myself here, but i wouldn’t block because i would want to keep an eye on the situation. If it’s escalating, if credible threats are made, or if she starts mentioning additional people (family members, for example) who might also be at risk, i want to know that. If by contrast the frequency of the attempted contacts are dropping off, I would like to know that too (yay!). No replying, obviously, but i want to know what’s going on.

      1. miss_chevious*

        Agreed. I would turn off notifications and never respond, and in email, I would filter her emails to a folder to keep them out of my inbox, but I would want to know when the communications were coming in, including frequency and content.

  19. I should really pick a name*

    You’re still being really accommodating, so I think it’s worth asking yourself why.

    These constant meetings could be cut short once you realized the direction you were heading.

    It sounds like you’re at least considering her request about tool repair.
    Don’t. It’s not your responsibility. Making sure she got her last paycheque was, but that’s it.

    She is gone. She is no longer your problem.

    Celebrate by throwing a house party.

    1. ampersand*

      Bwahahaha! And resist the urge to tell her about the house party, tempting though it may be.

    2. Hans Solo*

      Agree with this, seems like OP is thinking if they COULD find the SKU they would send it. It’s just a ploy for more communication and that is it.

      1. Maggiemay*

        That was my thought too. In the comments OP mentions running into Lisa in person as she was going to visit at a restaurant next door: the restaurant had closed an hour prior to this run in.
        I hope you really are not entertaining this request or brushing this run-in off as much as it seems to be coming across.

        1. Francie Foxglove*

          “…the restaurant had closed an hour prior to this run in.”

          I thought work had ended an hour earlier, and LW was leaving work, not going to the restaurant.

        1. OrigCassandra*

          I agree, get those locks rekeyed.

          It may also be worth asking any other employees whether they let Lisa in. If someone did, let them know that Lisa should under no circumstances be admitted to the premises. I don’t think discipline is warranted until/unless they do it after having been told not to.

        2. Jan*

          Maybe she had an electronic swipe card that would gain her access to the building. If so, hopefully she left it behind.

    1. Hell Job Escapee*

      Adding that if she does show up at your office, you can trespass her. That will at least start a paper trail if it is needed in the future.

  20. HugeTractsofLand*

    It’s great that you’ve been keeping a firm boundary, but at this point you should block her because she’s taking up way too much of your mental space for an ex-employee. The only good reason she’d have to reach out would be for a reference, and do you honestly think you can give a neutral reference at this point?

    Block her and forget her, and let your employees know that they should feel free to block her as well if she tries to get an “in” through them instead. Lisa’s behavior and expectations aren’t normal!

    1. Artemesia*

      I would not block her email, I would route all her emails into a folder which you don’t have to read, but you need to be keeping documentation. You could have someone else review them for you if you don’t want to face them.

      1. MassMatt*

        This. I agree with not responding, but OP should definitely keep a record of all communication attempts etc are made. If she DOES continue, or if things get worse (such as vandalism, or following OP around) they will be useful to show the police.

        If she gets no satisfying responses she will probably move on to something/someone else.

        At times I’m amazed that someone this nutty is able to work, and seemingly function in society. But having worked retail for several years, it just reinforces my belief that we have a subset of very disturbed people among the general public and it doesn’t take much to set them off.

        1. Aggretsuko*

          Yeah, I feel like OP is going to have to save/hide all contact and document all of it since Lisa’s going to keep it up.

          I am not any kind of expert in restraining orders, but for those of you advising that OP tell Lisa no one more time before cutting her off, is that a requirement for getting a restraining order?

        2. goddessoftransitory*

          I talk to this subset a lot in my job, and I basically think many of them have managed to organize their obsessive/otherwise dysfunctional tendencies into a–clump?–that they deploy strategically in certain situations or against certain people, and the rest of the time they act ‘normal’ enough to pass in most social situations.

  21. Observer*

    SKU on the receipt

    OP, you are WELL rid of this person. She’s bad news, and I have no doubt that in the long term she would have done your business a lot of damage.

    But this phrase really jumped out at me. If that’s what she actually wrote, then she’s a liar or there is something very wrong with her cognitive ability. Because getting repairs never needs that particular piece of information, if it even exists. (Not all receipts actually have a SKU on them.) Even warranty repairs don’t need that. So either she’s making something up to badger you or she’s incapable of passing on what should be a simple request.

    And that’s on top of the totally insane request that you take 5 seconds to do ANYTHING to help her get the repairs done. Of course it’s not on you to deal with her tools! It’s rather telling that you are framing it as “I feel” rather than the manifestly obvious thing that it is, and mention this as almost an aside of considering how much effort is might turn into. In fact, as I read this I was wondering why you had even let her keep the tool in the first place. I figured that it might not have been worth it to go after it. But I still would have considered her demand to be so absurd that I wouldn’t even give it a enough thought to realize how much time it would take. (Yes, not even the few seconds it probably took you to realize.) It would have been an automatic and hard NO, no way in the world.

    As others say, DO NOT RESPOND.

    1. Rainy*

      I think putting labels like “crush” (which implies “harmless”, “flattering”, etc) on behaviour that is demonstrably unwelcome isn’t usually super helpful to the target of the unwelcome behaviours.

      1. Sapientia*

        This is obsessive, stalkery behaviour. The motivation for this behaviour does not matter, what matters is the highly disruptive and possibly dangerous nature of the behaviour.

        1. JB*

          It’s obsession, plain and simple. If there is a romantic attraction angle it’s infatuation, being in love with the idea of someone rather than accepting the person as they are.

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        Yes, like that letter from a couple weeks ago where the LW was complaining about how to deal with all the “crushes” fellow workers in their space were getting on her employee. She/He made it sound like they were simply goofy and silly, rather than a constant source of harassment.

    2. NeedRain47*

      Society teaches us that it’s okay for crushes to “look like” harassment b/c they actually are harassment. It’s attention that’s not necessary or welcome and we should really be trying to get rid of this notion.

    3. Kella*

      Having a crush should not compel you to break someone else’s boundaries. That is the opposite of demonstrating love/care for them.

    4. Dust Bunny*

      It doesn’t matter if it’s a crush or neediness or what: It’s unwanted and intrusive.

  22. Baron*

    As I said on the original post, I was a Lisa in my youth. So I say with compassion for her: just block and ignore. That’s in your best interests, but that’s in her best interests, too.

      1. Hans Solo*

        Yes Baron, would love to hear exactly what you were looking for and did you realize what you were doing but couldn’t stop it or didn’t realize?

        1. Baron*

          I had no sense of boundaries (and big-time mental health issues, though I’m not going to diagnose Lisa with those). I thought my bosses were my best friends/parent figures/honestly, sometimes love interests and I felt the urgent need to be in constant contact and very close with them emotionally. Rejection would just drive me to want to fix the relationship. The only thing that ever shut me down in an individual dynamic with someone was for them to completely cut off contact; the only thing that helped me longer-term was therapy, which helped me to see the pattern and that I was misunderstanding the nature of my employment relationships.

          The whole you-don’t-know-how-to-manage thing reminds me of me back then too – I absolutely believed that an employer/employee relationship should be full-on scary codependent, and that if an employer didn’t want that kind of connection with me, that they just weren’t good at their jobs.

          To be clear, I’m not proud of having been this way and I would encourage anyone behaving this way to get whatever help they need to stop.

          1. OrigCassandra*

            Thank you for your honesty and willingness to disclose. I’m glad you found ways to reframe things.

            1. Baron*

              In my (kind of) defense, I did work in a field where codependency and bad boundaries were the norm, and it really warped me—but I’ll be the first to admit, I was way beyond. I was probably 25 before I learned, “Hey, your boss is not your therapist and parent and person you want to have sex with, and it’s weird that you want someone to be all three of those things.” (Sorry to make it weird, but if Lisa is anything like I was, I want to flag for the OP that it’s probably already weird.)

              More recently, I’ve had a professional mentee (someone from a volunteer organization, so I can more easily ignore them) who is like this. It’s…a lot. Even if you’re compassionate, which I believe the OP is, it’s a lot. I believe people with these issues can get better – I haven’t had any interaction that wasn’t about work with any boss for ten years – but the first step in that is the bosses completely grey-rocking them.

              1. GraceC*

                This reminds me a great deal of a Captain Awkward letter, “how do I deal with work burnout and make my partner happy”, who definitely feels like another Lisa – I hope both she (the CA LW) and this LW’s Lisa can find a way to get past whatever’s going on for them that’s making them latch on so intensely, and can reframe things in the way you have

                1. Baron*

                  Oh. Oh, my.

                  I’ve worked closely with very many lawyers and legal support staff, and I’m not sure I’ve ever seen one call the partner they support “my partner” before.

                  Yet this is…yeah, aspects of this are certainly familiar. I hope this LW is doing much better (in a new job).

          2. New Jack Karyn*

            Thank you for taking the time and energy to write out this meaningful, insightful reply. It’s never fun to dwell on the dysfunction of our younger selves. We can hold a bit of compassion for Lisa, and not believe she is evil beyond redemption, AND promote healthy & strong boundaries.

          3. Double A*

            Thank you for sharing this; it both provides the compassion to show that people can change and the confirmation that the LW in no way can be involved in that and in fact can only help through ironclad boundaries.

            I’m so glad you’ve gotten help!

  23. Kali*

    OP, as someone who deals with harassment cases professionally, block and ignore her. If you respond to Lisa’s 90th message, all you’re doing is teaching her that it takes 90 messages to get a response. You cannot respond to this sort of harassment* at all – she is not looking to get rehired or be friends or anything else but a reaction, and when you give it to her, you’re feeding the beast. The only thing that works is being a blank, silent wall of nothing. She will eventually get tired of throwing all the spaghetti at that wall (although it often gets worse before it gets better – I deal with exes a lot, and it’s often really gross and upsetting stuff in an effort to get a response). And please make sure that your other employees know not to reply to her at all either, or she’ll rope them into harassing you through them.

    *There are exceptions, like if Lisa is committing other crimes or stalking you. There are examples like journalists and activists who cannot ignore harassers because it may escalate into really terrifying things like swatting. This is advice for a garden variety harasser, which Lisa seems to be based on what you’ve said.

    1. Observer*

      <i. And please make sure that your other employees know not to reply to her at all either, or she’ll rope them into harassing you through them.

      Yes. And that *also* means locking down social media accounts and blocking her on the ones where this is possible.

    2. NeedRain47*

      Do you have any advice for telling a garden variety harasser from an **alarm bells** harasser? Because I have seen people do horrible and dangerous things and now they’re all alarm bells to me.

      1. Kali*

        The number one thing is violent ideation – there’s a difference between cussing someone out and calling them every name in the book and saying that they’re going to physically harm you (immediacy and means about that threat matters too – legally too, since that might move it from harassment to another crime). If there’s been physical violence in the past, there’s a *much* higher chance of violence in the future too, of course – an ex that is angry his gf broke up with him and is blowing up her phone with all sorts of messages takes on a completely different tenor if he has hit her in the past. Of course, any shifts/escalation in behavior is alarming – instead of “just” texts/calls, the harasser starts showing up at the house or workplace or starts leaving “gifts”.

        I tell people to trust their instincts. Victims tend to predict accurately whether someone is capable of violence. There are a lot of people out there who are really obsessive over (real or perceived) rejection, and they’re not all violent – obsession doesn’t seem to *create* violence, but it will expose what’s already there. That’s why so many abusers are also harassers. A closer relationship sadly seems to be a bigger indicator of violence after it’s over – it’s like the harasser finds it easier to turn to violence when there’s more “investment” in the relationship. And a closer relationship doesn’t necessarily mean longer – really intense, short-lived relationships can result in a harasser becoming violent. (My pet theory is that they just didn’t have enough time in the actual relationship to escalate to violence, so it’s all after the fact.) If the harasser tried to isolate the victim from family/friends during the relationship or harass them into isolating the victim, that’s deeply concerning to me, because it’s cutting off avenues of help. If precursors to physical violence, like isolating the victim, was present, then the harassment can be just a continuation of that escalation even if the relationship itself is supposedly over.

        The scary thing is that there are always exceptions to the rule – people who turn violent on near strangers (like people who stalk celebrities, for instance). There are plain sociopaths out there. There are people who have been so numbed and separated by their victims by the internet that they’re like topic-or-person-specific sociopaths (like the people who send death threats to journalists or activists) who may have predictive behavior but that a victim might not have access to know. When it’s not an already violent relationship, it’s probably 1 in 1000 that turn violent after the fact. But it’s not zero. I tell people not to let a harasser rule their life – that gives the harasser the win – but to remain vigilant and keep documentation of everything too.

        I don’t know if that answers your question. I know it’s hard to see clearly when you’ve had bad experiences in the past though, and it turns every similar situation into the worst possible scenario in your head. That’s really tough.

    3. MPerera*

      I was just going to recommend “The Gift of Fear” and the chapter on perseverance (i.e. people who refuse to let go of relationships even when the other person wants nothing to do with them).

      1. MPerera*

        Sorry, replied to the wrong comment here.

        But I also wanted to add that I had a similar experience with someone who kept emailing me. I blocked his address. He tried to friend me on Facebook, but I ignored him. He got his family members to email me, so I blocked them too. He started sending me e-cards, so… same response from me. I also started using a different email address. I think eventually he must have either given up or died, because I haven’t heard anything from him in years.

  24. Water Everywhere*

    The tool thing is just another excuse. You do not owe her ANY more time and effort so block her everywhere you can. There may be an extinction burst of her trying every way possible to contact you but just keep blocking/ignoring and let your other staff know to do the same.

  25. Rick T*

    First: Did you change the locks after she snuck in at night? Do it now if you haven’t already.
    If you can prove it that’s trespassing offense right there (and might be burglary too), if it was only a few months ago I’d consider a report to the police to get it documented.

    Block her on every channel (phone block, emails are spam, etc), then get a lawyer to write a Do Not Contact Me letter that also trespasses her from your business and have it sent Certified Receipt requested so you have proof it was delivered to her.

    Grey rocking her will likely get her to escalate her behavior, a warning letter that should set her up for a restraining order may be the wake up call Lisa needs to move on.

    1. BuildMeUp*

      If you can prove it that’s trespassing offense right there (and might be burglary too), if it was only a few months ago I’d consider a report to the police to get it documented

      IANAL, but given that Lisa entered the office overnight while she was still employed there, I think it’s unlikely that the police will take this seriously. She also only took her own things, so I’m not sure how it would be considered burglary.

  26. DannyG*

    “She must have snuck into my business in the middle of the night to take home her things” does she have a key or access code? If you haven’t already made sure locks are changed & codes cancelled.

    1. Observer*

      Yes. Please make sure that every. single. possible. point of access is blocked to her. No access to email (although you should archive her email box and preserve the contents), locks, social media accounts, anything whatsoever.

  27. cosmicgorilla*

    If you reply after 50 attempts from her,she’ll learn to keep trying. She’s only at 36 now, 14 more to go.

    If you reply after 100 attempts, well, she’s at 78 now, so 79..80…81…. You’ll respond eventually, so she’ll keep trying. No response. Block. Delete.

  28. Supporter*

    well done you! it’s never easy dealing with any employee that quits, and this one was triply difficult given her behaviors, fake reviews, and continuous communication.

    keep things documented/in a folder where you can in case you have to deal with any legal/hr issues on your end.

    stay strong! she’ll become someone else’s problem soon…hopefully?

  29. Ialwaysforgetmyname*

    The first thing that came into my head after reading the update was the movie “Single white female.”

  30. 1-800-BrownCow*

    OP, I do have one concern regarding how the whole situation played out. You took Alison’s advice and firmly told Lisa to stop with the constant communication but then you wrote: “she requested meeting after meeting where she complained about not feeling supported or loved. She told stories about past bosses who threw house parties, bosses who wanted hourly texts, and slowly explained that maybe I just don’t know how to be a boss, since I worked at a sandwich shop in high school.“. Her behavior prior to you firmly asking her to stop was concerning, but to then let Lisa continue with behavior issues was worse. I don’t know how many meetings she scheduled for the sake of complaining before OP refused to meet with her and she finally quit, but OP should have put a stop to the behavior early on. It sounds like instead of directly confronting Lisa about her behavior, or firing her since it was getting worse not better, OP just ignored the behavior issue until finally Lisa gave up and quit for attention. It really sounds like Lisa should have been fired well before that point. And once she was done, that should have been it. No more letting her into the building, no more contact with her period. OP should block Lisa, change the locks (if she hasn’t already) and keep Lisa away from her business.

    1. Lisa’s Ex-Boss*

      There were three meetings and yes, I was building the proper case towards firing with warnings and write ups.

      1. LCH*

        you are the owner. you could have just fired her. (i’m assuming your are in the US in an at-will state and she did not have a contract.)

      2. Observer*

        Why did you need so much documentation and such a long process?

        I get that you don’t want to be cavalier about firing people. But unless something very odd was going on, you had enough information and bad enough behavior to justify (ethically) firing her. And as the owner, you don’t need to justify it to anyone else. Worst case, she would have collected UEI, which is a bit of a cost to you, but a lot less than what it winds up costing to keep on someone like this.

        1. Mackenna*

          OP may not be in America. Where I live, you cannot just fire people like you can in America, in fact if you do you way well end up being sued for unfair dismissal and end up having to give the person their job back, or pay them out. Here, you need to document things very well, and give three official warnings before you can legally get rid of someone and be free and clear, with them having no avenue for legal recourse. It sounds to me like this is what the OP was in the process of doing.

  31. NeedRain47*

    Start thinking about a restraining order. People don’t think about women being violent stalkers like they think about men. They don’t tend to beat people physically, but there are plenty of other things they can do to harm you, your business, your reputation. (I know someone who’s exgf cancelled his son’s health insurance out of spite. Also tried to burn his house down. I am scared of people like this.)

      1. Hans Solo*

        You could have “tried” to get one. If there is no threat it can be very very hard to get one. I was denied one once because I was “only” pushed and he didn’t try to choke me. I just say that so commentators who think they know how they would have handled this know that that’s not how easy the system is.

        1. NeedRain47*

          I said “start thinking about” specifically b/c I know it’s not easy, and also doesn’t really help stop the behavior that needs stopped most times. (A good friend’s sister’s ex came to her workplace and shot at her. Friend & sister essentially told the police ahead of time that it would happen, but they didn’t stop it b/c he hadn’t shot anyone yet.)

          In case LW’s ex employee does escalate, it’ll be better if OP starts documenting unwanted contact now. Breaking into a place you don’t work any more is questionably legal so seems like a good starting point.

        2. design ghost*

          Honestly! “I would have gotten a restraining order” like it’s something you pick up at the mall.

          Like, good for these commenters that they never had to learn these things the hard way I suppose.

  32. Lobsterman*

    I’m sorry, I want to be sympathetic, but the intensity of LW1’s passivity has caused this to cross over into a sitcom episode.

    1. Anna Badger*

      Eh, I think this is quite common when this is a person’s first time dealing with someone like this. if all the people you deal closely with are relatively reasonable, the only tools you have are ones that you’ve developed for dealing with reasonable people, and it’s not always obvious in the moment that you need new ones.

      1. JustaTech*

        Exactly. It’s like sometimes being Very Direct can feel very rude, if all your prior experience was with people who caught all the less-direct instructions.
        We all have to learn new tools for dealing with new types of people. If we’re lucky we either get to learn incrementally through people who are edge cases, or by other people’s experiences (like here). If we aren’t lucky we get thrown in the deep end of the pool with very unreasonable people like Lisa.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          And especially if you’re in a traditionally more powerful position, like boss over employee. Our social norms say that employees are supposed to listen to employers, do work assigned, and not tell them they don’t know how to manage because they ran a sandwich shop. So when someone is using the exact opposite of those norms as their baseline, it can take a long time to recalibrate.

      2. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

        Hard agree. People have no idea how difficult it is to deal with someone who flouts all the social rules and conventions until they have to do it. There is a social contract that most people adhere to, and most people’s instinct is to continue following that until it’s become abundantly clear that it’s not going to work, and that takes time.

      3. Irish Teacher*

        And the specific behaviour is one that I think could be particularly difficult to be direct about. It feels mean to say “I don’t want to hear from you unless it’s about work” or to refuse the information somebody needs to get something repaired (not that I believe she really does).

    2. coffee*

      Hey, one of the commenting rules here is to be kind to letter-writers and fellow commenters.

  33. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

    This went from annoying to pathological pretty quickly. Sheesh. ‘

    The missing tupperware lid is a new one. What’s next, “I left a smudged post-it note with my grocery list on the monitor?”

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      Shhh….. If Lisa is reading this, she certainly doesn’t need any more ideas.

  34. Mel*

    Block her.
    If there’s nothing left that you owe her legally (final pay etc) then block her. She’s no longer an employee. You have no need to be in contact with her. You certainly don’t need to waste your energy and emotional well-being on her.
    Block her.

  35. Playing With Puppies And Kittens All Day*

    It sounds like you’ve been keeping it together through a really tough situation, I hope you are doing okay and finding outlets for the stress!

    Once you’ve gotten a little more distance from this whole mess, it might be worth turning to a trusted person (partner/friend/mentor/therapist?) to dig into the whole thing and dissect your responses. It seems like you have the very common instinct to try to be as accommodating as possible, even when it’s unreasonable and it’s hurting you, and you deserve to be able to have your boundaries respected.

  36. River*

    I agree with everyone as well about deleting and blocking her forms of communication in addition to starting to document incidents in case you may have to file for a restraining order.
    Also, don’t respond to the (if you’re certain) fake Google/Yelp reviews because it’s only adding fuel to the fire. It’s another form of engagement and I wouldn’t be surprised if Lisa and/or the friend are stalking the reviews like a hawk for replies by your business. Misery loves company.

  37. learnedthehardway*

    In addition to changing the locks / lock codes, please make sure that you have also changed the passwords on any systems Lisa could have accessed while she was employed by you. I assume any administrative access was revoked and that her own accounts were cancelled, but it makes sense to assume that she might have made note of other people’s passwords as well.

    Large companies routinely require employees to switch passwords (annoyingly often, in some cases), and it’s not a bad idea for small ones to make a point of periodically changing their passwords too.

  38. New Senior Mgr*

    Stop engaging. It only encourages her. Purge her from your life and workplace completely.

  39. I'm fabulous!*

    Give her the name of the company for the SKU and end it there.
    Make sure the locks to your building are changed.
    Seek legal counsel as Lisa will continue to find any way to stay in contact to you.
    Save all documents from Lisa in a folder.

    1. Juicebox Hero*

      OP mustn’t even give her the company name or any other info, because any communication at all is only going to encourage Lisa to keep bothering the OP.

    2. Observer*

      Give her the name of the company for the SKU and end it there.

      No. Absolutely not!

      Do not respond. There are two reasons.

      1. She’s being obnoxious and trying to force the OP to keep engaging. Every time the OP responds, it encourages her. And if it does come down to needing to take stronger measures, each communication is going to be used against that OP.

      2. This particular request would be over the top even for someone who was not already a problem.

      Seek legal counsel as Lisa will continue to find any way to stay in contact to you.

      Exactly. Which is exactly why the OP should just not respond. Period. But, yes to talking to a lawyer who has experience with difficult ex-employees.

      1. I'm fabulous!*

        Sorry. It’s best to stop all communication. Reroute her emails and voicemails to message boxes.

  40. Hashtag Destigmatize Therapy*

    Whatever exactly is going on on Lisa’s end, it seems clear that she needs help–and that help cannot come from you, OP. I second everybody else saying to block her. It’s destructive for her if she learns that she can maintain any kind of relationship with you after acting this way.

  41. may spring rain*

    “…she complained about not feeling supported or loved.”

    Not feeling…loved [at work]?


  42. LCH*

    I don’t know what tool this is that you bought her as an employee and do not care. She is no longer an employee. Her possessions are not your problem. This is not a real issue, this is just her trying to stay in contact with you.

    Block, block, block, block.

    1. Juicebox Hero*

      Yep, part of adulting is being able to solve your own problems. If there even is a broken tool and it’s not just the latest convenient excuse Lisa is using to bug the OP, it’s her responsibility to get it repaired or replaced on her own. Others have pointed out that the SKU might not be needed at all, or be on the tool itself, and a qualified repair person would know what to look for.

  43. Quill*

    Agreed with literally everyone on do not allow any contact whatsoever. And on the fact that you need to document this, because although it’s not likely that you can get a restraining order NOW, Lisa may still escalate, and you need to already have a plan for how to get a restraining order if she does something that makes a clear case that the law might get involved.

    Another thing: if Lisa has been leaving reviews on your business via friends or sockpuppets, it’s possible that she knows you check your yelp page. It might be worth having Yelp freeze the ability to make reviews on your page for a while – this would not be the first angry former employee story they’ve heard. The main benefit would be cutting off even more communication than blocking her phone / email / social media and resetting all company passwords she could have known (If you don’t know how to do this and don’t have IT it might be worth hiring an expert for a one-time overhaul.)

  44. Dances with Flax*


    Lisa is, to put it bluntly, bananacrackers. Her situation is pathetic in many ways, BUT she may also become downright dangerous and a very real threat to you and your company. She’s already shown herself willing and able to sneak into the building at night. The first time was to retrieve her personal property – her next nighttime foray into your company might not be so innocuous. The amount of physical, reputational and financial damage that she could do to your company if she had hours and hours of time in there should give you pause; at the very least, ramp up your security. Lisa should NOT have been able to get into the building at night, certainly not without being detected! And the fact that you had to ASSUME that she got into your company at night means that there was no way to KNOW who was there when you were closed. Security should be top priority now!

    The more you engage with her, the worse the unhinged behavior is likely to become. Save every recordable contact she tries to make with you (save emails, phone messages, “snail mail” if she’s using that, etc.) and document whatever isn’t recorded (phone calls, attempts to get into the building) as soon as it happens. Yes, you may have to build a case for a restraining order against her, and the more evidence you have the stronger your case will be. And read or re-read “The Gift of Fear”; it will provide excellent guidance on dealing with obsessed, unstable and potentially dangerous people.

    1. Observer*

      Lisa should NOT have been able to get into the building at night, certainly not without being detected! And the fact that you had to ASSUME that she got into your company at night means that there was no way to KNOW who was there when you were closed. Security should be top priority now!

      I have to agree with this. I’m not going to say that there is a HIGH likelihood of her trying to break in or something like that. But it is a possibility. And reasonable security, which you don’t have at this point, is a good idea anyway. You don’t need to turn your office into a fortress but at least some cameras (not so expensive these days) is a really good investment.

      1. JB*

        Invalidate her means of entry when she was employed. Deactivate a keycard or fob, change the locks. She may try to get access through someone who is working there she can make herself sympathetic to with something like “I think I forgot to get something when I left, can you just let me in to get it?”

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          Yes! Make sure your other employees (and if you’re in a building with more than one business, the other businesses) know to NOT let her in or give out any information. If your building has its own security, make sure they have her picture and information in case she tries to enter or calls them to get transferred to you.

  45. Tabby Baltimore*

    I didn’t see this explicitly in the comments, so would like to suggest that if you have a way to do so, please add the note “NOT ELIGIBLE FOR REHIRE” to Lisa’s employment file in your company’s personnel records. And I am so sorry you are having to deal with this.

  46. I'm the Phoebe in Any Group*

    Wow. She wants to be loved. At work. I’m so sorry for what you are going through.
    Make sure to change or re-key the locks and change any passwords she might have, both internally and if you have social media. Also make sure her email address is deactivated so she can’t contact people through there.

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

    I am so sorry this is happening to you, OP!

    Because she is now into stalker territory, rather than blocking her outright, I would filter her emails so they all go into a separate folder, that you can check or not, but can keep if needed. Definitely start and keep a paper trail, and document any of her past behaviours that you can.

    Good luck

    1. JB*

      Recognise the language she uses as well, her style of writing, recurring elements and formatting (font, size, colour etc). Burner email accounts are simple to make. People thinking rationally don’t make multiple emails to get a response out of a former employer and she’s already sockpuppeted on review sites.

  48. Looper*

    I would advise taking some time to understand why you allowed these things to play out like this. You let this woman stay on and run rampant with her bs until SHE QUIT. What on earth is it going to take for you to fire someone? How do you think your other employees see you now? Can they trust you? And still to this moment she has access to message and email you. Why hasn’t she been blocked? You can’t control her behavior but you absolutely can control how you handle the situation and this doesn’t seem handled at all.

  49. Mild Accountant*

    So…honestly, LW, I get it. (I’ve had several friends and employees violate my boundaries.) I can’t add much that others haven’t already added, except…wow, I hope Lisa finds some peace in her life. Preferably, extremely far away from you.

    But yes, mark her as a “do not rehire” (not sure if you are involved in all the hiring, but it can’t hurt to mark it for others), probably do the bare minimum for job recs, and mute her on everything. Possibly, block her. (I say this as someone who knows when he’s left on read.)

  50. Raida*

    Good god. she sounds exhausting!

    I mean, she sounded tiring before but with all that added on?

    Definitely just don’t respond.
    Or – forward the emails to someone else in the business to handle, so that she no longer gets *any* contact from you. No matter what she asks, the response may well be from you but it’ll be via someone else and you won’t be in the email chain.

    Don’t even tell her you’re doing it.

    And if she bothers this new person enough, they can respond that you have instructed them to cease, it’s not work-related and their time is not to be spent on these little questions and tasks.

  51. SB*

    I have had to supply proof of purchase to an ex employee as they required repair under warranty for a welding visor we bought him before he left. The supplier refused to honor the warranty without the invoice so I had to spend some time finding the paperwork & forwarding to the supplier so they could start the repairs. Thankfully it was only a 20 to 30 minute job as “John” was able to give me the month it was issued to him & the visor was only purchased the month prior for stock.

    If she requires the info for warranty, just tell her that she must give you a month at the very least or you will be unable to assist with her request.

    1. Observer*

      If she requires the info for warranty, just tell her that she must give you a month at the very least or you will be unable to assist with her request.

      Nope. For one thing, she was lying about what she needs – proof of purchase MIGHT be needed, depending on the vendor. SKU on the invoice is absolutely NOT the case.

      Beyond that, it’s not the OP’s problem to make sure that she can get a warranty repair. I have no idea why you needed to do this for a former staff person, but the OP certainly has no obligation here.

      And given Lisa’s behavior, the OP should absolutely not communicate with her any further.

  52. Mothman*

    Never, ever answer. And do not block. Messages are warnings and messages are evidence. You WANT her to leave them if she’s going to keep pulling this.

    I’d recommend contacting your lawyer because she’s legitimately harming your business via those reviews (or will be soon if she doesn’t get her way), and she’s likely bordering on harassment.

  53. Dawn*

    Gonna agree with a lot of other people here that the words “harassment” and “lawyer” are entering the conversation.

    1. Dawn*

      I might also recommend that next time an employee insults you to your face, as the owner, you show them the door at that point and not wait for them to quit.

  54. Giant Kittie*

    OP, please, I beg of you…BLOCK HER everywhere she is currently able to contact you, or this will never stop.

  55. münchner kindl*

    I used to wonder why theses stalking people don’t realize how their aggressive behaviour is turning people off.

    And of course Lisa’s behaviour is very very wrong.

    But I felt reminded of the earlier letter from a person struggling with anxiety who also went overboard


    with the big difference that that LW was aware their anxiety was out of control, she was getting therapy and medication for it; so people felt sympathy for her while also understanding the company taking the necessary steps to protect her coworker.

    For Lisa, I don’t see any acknowledgment or being sorry for behaviour, so she’s just wrong.

    I wish OP had a good way to stop Lisa’s harrassment.

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