update: 2 temps accused me of bullying

It’s “where are you now?” month at Ask a Manager, and all December 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 who was accused of bullying by two temps (#2 at the link)? Here’s the update.

I have a doozy of an update!

I pushed back on the temp agency and set expectations regarding the skills we needed, and the next three temps lasted the remainder of our need for temps. We tried really hard to find them other positions within our company but the timing was terrible. I’ve stayed in touch with all three and provided a glowing recommendation back to the temp agency. I’ve also been a reference a few times as they’ve applied for positions outside of the temp agency. I was able to refer one to an administrative job at the local college, one was able to use the training to work for another company in our area that is a similar business, and one ended up moving back home to take care of family but has my contact info if they come back to the area.

The multiple-paragraph text message attacking me is now part of my company lore! It gets told to office new hires and has made its way around the company and the general response has been that people were stunned that she acted that way and felt that way about me. I’ve had people from the chief level and down seek me out to tell me they enjoy working with me, I’m an asset to the company, or something similar.

I really really appreciate the commenters who realized I was seeing everything through a pregnancy lens and gave me grace.

That all sounds bland, right? Here’s the doozy part — the stress at work plus a stressful issue at home (now resolved) combined with getting the flu sent me into labor at 27 weeks (roughly six months). I spent two days in the hospital trying to prevent labor and then had an urgent C-section. My company did all the things we hope a company would do! I had one coworker who volunteered as the designated contact and people at all levels of the company were checking in with her during the two days. I of course went on immediate FMLA leave during the last year of the month which is terrible timing for my responsibilities. I’d been working with my team to cover my leave but had fully expected to be there during year-end and Audit so not covered as much in those areas.

My team stepped up and did FABULOUS! My boss recognized their work and gave them raises. By the end of December my baby had stabilized in the NICU and I came back temporarily to work as otherwise I would have used all my leave before he was expected to be released closer to his due date in March.

I came back to work dealing with a baby in the NICU, a toddler at home who didn’t understand why both parents were never home at the same time anymore, PTSD from the whole situation, and some serious PPD/A. The first two weeks were extremely rough and I would burst into tears for no reason. I didn’t work a full day that entire month and no one blinked an eye. In fact, my team helped me not get pulled into things towards the end of the day so I could always leave early to get to the NICU. My same designated contact coworker tried to intercept people to give them updates for me too. About two weeks in, I had another check-up with my doctor and agreed to medication help (I had turned it down previously as I was so worried about passing anything to the baby as super tiny babies can’t have formula).

We made it through the audit and honestly, it was probably the best one ever. I went back on leave in mid-March with just one thing pending and a team I knew could handle it. Additionally, my company stepped up and paid me what short-term disability would have paid had I not returned to work temporarily. The next day (two days before the baby came home from the hospital), I fell and broke my foot so I was juggling my own healing with a newborn and we learned to get around on wheels. I’m including a link to the video my company did in March when we were asked to be this year’s March of Dimes “My Company” Family and pictures of when baby was born, when baby came home, and baby now so Alison can confirm for you all that baby is adorable, growing, and all good!

(Alison here: I can indeed confirm that the baby is adorable, growing, and all good!)

{ 43 comments… read them below }

  1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

    When you said doozy I was expecting bananpants. This is the good kind of doozy. Sounds like your company has turned from toxic to good.

    For the two temps who bullied you, out of sight out of mind.

  2. Some Internet Rando*

    I am sorry you went through so much with your pregnancy. I also had my daughter early due to preeclampsia, she was in the NICU for a month, and it was so stressful. She is now 12 and doing great! I wish you and your family the best!

  3. Elizabeth*

    This update made me cry! I’m so very glad your company came through for you, especially after all it sounds like they put you through a while back.

  4. Local Garbage Committee*

    So glad for happy resolution on this one!

    Also I know it’s just a typo but the “last year of the month” is the perfect turn of phrase to describe how work feels to me this week.

    1. Miss Thymia*

      I was thinking the same thing, along the lines of “not as think as you drunk I am.” It’s a perfect happy accident.

      1. new old friend*

        I’ve always been a fan of “half of one, six dozen of the other”, because people so rarely notice it’s wrong.

  5. Roja*

    Oh my word, what an update! I’m so happy your company did the right through through everything. What a wild ride. I’m glad to hear baby is doing well and growing, but so sorry you went through all that (and then finally thinking you were done, and breaking your foot–argh!!!).

  6. Sharpie*

    I’m so glad things turnout so well. Those two crazypants temps shot themselves in the foot when it came to getting a good reference from you, as you’ve offered the three who came after them – and it’s entirely possible that their agency fired them when they heard how bananas they were, especially if the agency is generally a good one.

    I’m glad that your company seems to have gone from toxic to great, and I wish you all the very best in the future – and I’m glad your baby is doing so well, too.

    1. Observer*

      Those two crazypants temps shot themselves in the foot when it came to getting a good reference from you, as you’ve offered the three who came after them

      Yeah, but given how bad their work was, I doubt the OP would have given those two a good reference. It’s one thing when you don’t hire someone because there is no appropriate role or budget. It’s another when you don’t hire because they can’t be bothered to do their job.

  7. Sister George Michael*

    OMG LW, you went through so much!! I’m glad your company had your back. Having a designated contact is a great idea.

  8. Legally Brunette*

    Hero status to you, OP! So very delighted for you that all is well, you’re now a company legend, and baby (and toddler, I assume) are thriving!

    I’m 100% adopting “Last year of the month” – it’s so very appropriate for December in the 2020s :)

    1. Reluctant Mezzo*

      It’s appropriate for all year end activities (still giving a software company the side-eye for deciding to do their updates in the middle of *our* year end. There were Words. Strong Words.).

  9. Bookworm*

    O_O I was very much holding my breath throughout this update. I’m so happy to read your company had your back and the baby is doing well! Thank you for the update!

    1. Boof*

      Right? I kept thinking “please be a happy ending!” Phew op, very harrowing, glad everyone was okay in the end and your company stepped up

  10. Juicebox Hero*

    Finding out that the bullying temps’ screed has become part of company lore and has been denied on every level is very satisfying.

    I’m glad the company did everything they could to help you through the crazy times, and extra extra glad you and the baby are doing well.

  11. Critical Rolls*

    I am in absolute awe of your strength and persistence. I hope 2023 improved steadily to the point where the way you felt during the crisis period is now distant and fuzzy. Phew!

  12. Jennifer Strange*

    That was a wild ride, but I am so glad everyone is doing well, and that your company (including co-workers and employees!) helped you through this period. I’ve gone through some severe PPD myself and it can be so difficult, so I’m thrilled you are in a good place now.

  13. Mercurial*

    OP you are an actual inspiration to go through so much and come out so well! Congratulations on your family, and for having a company and colleagues who really stepped up for you.

    (Pesky onion ninjas.)

  14. Lurker*

    Looks like your company and co-workers really pulled through for you! Congratulations and good luck with everything!

  15. Sara without an H*

    My team stepped up and did FABULOUS! My boss recognized their work and gave them raises.

    LW, if you’re ever tempted again to doubt your abilities as a manager, remember this. The team you manage and trained came through for you!

    Congratulations and best wishes for a more serene 2024! And enjoy your little one…

    1. learnedthehardway*

      Exactly!!! OP, if you hadn’t been a good manager, your team might have done their jobs, but they wouldn’t have excelled like they did, and they wouldn’t have gone the extra mile for you.

    2. Lana Kane*

      “LW, if you’re ever tempted again to doubt your abilities as a manager, remember this. The team you manage and trained came through for you!”

      Yes! Whenever you need a boost, remember how much they respect you!

  16. Not Mindy*

    This all makes me so happy for you (in the end)! I especially like the point person in the office.
    Congratulations on your growing family, and best wishes for a calmer 2024!

  17. Seashell*

    Those prior temps sounded like surly teenagers. Good riddance to them, and glad everything ended up OK in the end.

    1. Observer*

      Those prior temps sounded like surly teenagers.

      Please don’t insult teenagers, even surly ones. Most of them know better than this. MUCH better.

      Good riddance is exactly right, though.

  18. DrSalty*

    Oh my goodness, what a time! How awful and scary that must have been. I’m so happy to hear everyone, especially your sweet little baby, is doing well

  19. Michelle Smith*

    Congratulations on the baby!! I’m so glad you are both healthy now!! Thanks for the update and best wishes on continued success moving forward.

  20. Fellow “Fighter Baby”*

    I’m so glad the OP and family are doing well. I was born at 26 weeks in the ‘80s. I’m doing well but my parents never got the help they needed for their PTSD and that has impacted our relationship.

    Thank you for getting help. Congratulations to you and your son!

  21. Parakeet*

    Reading the original, I don’t think someone even needs to be looking through a pregnancy lens to have been very upset! “Bully” is one of those loaded words that is a really serious accusation and can damage your reputation and prospects, but that people have watered down so much through overuse that you can end up in a situation that’s simultaneously trivial/not the thing it’s being claimed to be, and very high-stakes. Especially with multiple people making the accusations such that you might feel less likely to be believed. I’m so glad it worked out for the LW and that the other people at the office backed them up so emphatically!

    Also, as a former preemie/NICU baby myself, I’m so glad that the baby and the LW are doing okay on that front – what a nice update!

  22. Bruce*

    What a ride! So glad your team and company have had your back, and you’ve gotten treatment for the PPD. Best wishes to you and your family, hope it is smooth going now…

  23. Sociology Rocks!*

    Glad to hear all is well!!! Joining the choir, my twin and I were born at 26 weeks, and I’m always happy to hear about fellow NICU success stories!
    Definitely, absolutely take care of yourself and your mental health needs even if that feels impossible with all that has happened. As Fellow “Fighter Baby” noted above, it has a long term impact on you and how you relate to your kid. Your kid however, has no knowledge of what happened, or how hard they fought, and may or may not see lasting health consequences (I have some manageable ones like impaired vision, asthma and ADHD, but my twin (who made us early) has no consequences at all). The difference in me and my twins needs in the NICU and long after has definitely produced different dynamics in the family that impact parent relationships as adults. Love your kid to death, as you should, but don’t let the fear from how things started permanently mark your image of them. They’ll thrive in spite of their challenges, but they’ll do even better if you are able to thrive too! Make sure whatever happens they know they aren’t a burden or inconvenience or challenge if/when they have different needs and abilities than their sibling, that their differences are the most normal thing the world and part of being human.

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