update: my coworker lied about sexual harassment because he doesn’t like our new boss

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 whose coworker lied about sexual harassment because he didn’t like their new boss? Here’s the update.

I just wanted to express my gratitude for your advice and that of the commenters — it really helped me a lot. As some readers guessed, I’m a young woman, the first in my family to land a “good” office job. So, some of the things people consider normal are new to me.

Horace used to be my old boss, and he said that in any situations involving coworkers, it should be dealt with directly with the manager. HR was for more significant issues. He emphasized that if we kept bothering HR with gossip about what colleagues did or didn’t do, our name would be the one HR remembered if someone had to be let go. It’s not a valid excuse, I know, but I was afraid of going to HR and ending up getting fired for it.

But thanks to you and your readers, I went to HR right after my question was posted and followed the advice of only stating the facts. I said things like, “Tom said X and Y in the meeting room around X o’clock on Y day.” I left out things like, “I think Tom is trying to get the new manager fired to take his position.” This helped with the feeling that I was talking behind a colleague’s back.

The next day, Tom accused the friend of “snitching” on the conversation to HR. Our office is an open space, and the only separate room is the manager’s. So, the argument was heard by everyone (and I think that’s why Tom didn’t see me on the day of the conversation). Tom said he had praised the efficiency of HR and victim protection, the friend responded, and the conversation escalated to the point where a manager from another department appeared and took both of them to HR. Information about the complaint was supposed to be confidential during the investigation, but after the argument, everyone knew.

Arthur returned the following week, but he was completely changed. No more laughter and jokes. He only spoke with the team when absolutely necessary and always in a serious tone. His office door was never closed again, and he made an effort to avoid physical contact with anyone. It was painful to see the change. I tried talking to him, but he avoided any kind of personal conversation. A few weeks later, he announced that he was being transferred to another branch of the company. I managed to speak with him before he left, and he said he no longer felt comfortable working here, even though people showed support. He preferred to distance himself from the situation.

After Arthur left, our team was dissolved, and we were reassigned to another team. The new manager of Tom’s team has been with the company for many years and is very well-liked; it will be challenging to accuse her of anything. My new manager seems okay, and Arthur seems to be doing better in the other branch than he was here.

I know it’s not the update everyone was expecting.

Update to the update:

I honestly thought that would be the last update, but something unexpected happened!

I live in a country where paid sick days shorter than a week should be covered by the employer if the employee provides a medical certificate. Tom was selling fake medical certificates within the company and got caught. Since it’s considered a crime here, Tom was fired on the spot (along with some friends who bought the certificates) and could face criminal charges.

I’m not sure if they discovered the forgery while investigating the complaint against Arthur, but at least Tom was fired without a chance of getting a good reference.

{ 210 comments… read them below }

    1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      Agreed! And OP, you executed it in a completely professional way: You gave HR the facts and kept your interpretations to yourself, which kept things out of a “what I really meant was…” cesspool of lies.

    2. Sloanicota*

      This is a letter I really wanted an update on, and although I’m disappointed it didn’t turn out better for Arthur, OP has nothing to feel bad about here. Good job OP!

      1. Csethiro Ceredin*

        Same. Tom sure showed everyone who he is, so while I’m sorry Arthur went through that, it’s safe to say nobody doubts Tom was lying at this point.

      2. Anon Again... Naturally*

        Agreed. I’m hoping with the news of Tom’s fraud, Arthur feels a little more secure that the issue was that Tom is a horrible person and his behavior would have been terrible no matter what Arthur did.

      3. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

        I hope that Arthur is doing well and thriving at the other branch of the company.

      4. SometimesCharlotte*

        I don’t know that a better outcome was possible for Arthur. There was no way he wasn’t going to be traumatized by the experience. He was able to keep his job and to transfer to a different group that hopefully had not heard about the whole debacle. It was really the best that could be hoped for in an awful situation. Yes, better would have been for Tom to be publicly pilloried but that wasn’t going to happen either. At least karma got him in the end and he’s in a worse situation than just being fired!

        1. Allibaster kitty*

          I’m hopeful that the legal stuff came to Arthur’s attention and knows that Tom could be in jail!

      5. Elizabeth West*

        Same. OP did the right thing.
        I feel really bad for Arthur. However, the universe coming for Tom made me cackle in a slightly evil manner, heh heh.

    3. ferrina*

      Yes! OP, you definitely did the right thing. You may have made the difference in the investigation (and you probably did). HR isn’t detectives, and when people come forward with information, it means HR can really unravel what happened.

    4. Ellis Bell*

      Applauding OP’s bravery here. They’d long been set up to distrust HR by a cartoon villain; honestly appalled at this.

    5. OMG, Bees!*

      The old manager telling OP and others that if they went to HR to complain, they would be the ones remembered for “gossiping” and first to be fired makes sense now why she didn’t go. With that info, Horace sounds like a classic abuser, trying to make people afraid to seek help. He clearly said that so he could play favorites and have the rest of the team not say anything. Glad OP spoke up.

  1. Valancy Stirling*

    I was nodding along sadly, thinking that this wasn’t the best update but it could be worse. And then! Holy karma, batman!

    Wishing the best to Arthur and to you, LW.

    1. The dark months*

      I was coming here to say the exact same thing. Also love your handle – Valancy is an excellent example of karma gone right!

      1. Kate E.*

        Two other AAM readers who appreciate Valancy Stirling seems like a suspiciously high number? Do I know you all in real life?

            1. Another LM Montgomery fan*

              I am so grateful to you wonderful people for reminding me of this book. I re-read the Anne of Green Gables series all the time, to the neglect of LM’s other great works. Added to the list!

            1. cosmicgorilla*

              +1 for The Blue Castle. What a satisfying character arc. (And proof that the power was within YOU all along.)

            1. Csethiro Ceredin*

              Same! One of the best character glow-ups I’ve ever read and one of my comfort reads. The family dinner party scene alone is worth the price of admission!

              1. CM*

                Either there are LOTS of Valancy fans out there or you’re all in my library system? Just tried to reserve The Blue Castle after all these glowing reviews, and there is a 6-week hold!

                1. Aggretsuko*

                  I nth having read the book. But I think it might be old enough to be online for free? See if it is.

        1. Kate E.*

          Thank you all for sharing! It really warms my heart to see this many Valancy fans!
          If you haven’t met Valancy, The Blue Castle is a 1926 novel by LM Montgomery. It is in the public domain and widely available (Libby, Hoopla, free internet download). I listen to it at least a couple times each year.

        2. It is not MAIDENLY to think about MEN*

          Thank you for the reminder that this would be a delightful re-read over the holiday break! I will so enjoy watching Valancy NGAF.

          1. eater of hotdish*

            I’m not going to bother trying to count, but sign me up for the Valancy fan club. I aspire to her level of NGAFness.

        3. DrMM*

          Add on another. As a redhead people think Anne of Green Gables should be my favorite LMM book — but it’s not. It will always be The Blue Castle.

      2. Valancy Stirling*

        Not unless you live in Argentina, but I’m thrilled that my username sparked this Valancy love-fest!

      3. ClairePBear*

        I don’t know what number we’re up to now, but I’m a huge Valancy fan!! The Blue Castle is one of my favorite LMM books. It might be time for a reread!

        1. Anne of Green Gables*

          I guess it should have been obvious that fans of Alison would also have great taste in fictional heroines. Add me to the list of Blue Castle fans! May all of you place triumphant flags in your dust piles!

        1. CallMeDrDork*

          I just read The Blue Castle. Thank you all so much for introducing this book to me! I’ve read some of the Anne books but didn’t think to see what else Montgomery had written. Reading it saved me from a book hangover after finishing the latest T Kingfisher Saint of Steel!

    2. FricketyFrack*

      Yeah, no wonder Tom was so desperate to be back in the position of the favorite (or a manager). Glad he got caught out. What a trash man.

    3. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

      My jaw literally dropped when I read that last bit. Like actually, for realsies.

  2. ChaoticNeutral*

    Good for you OP. It must have been difficult to witness the change in Arthur but you potentially helped him avoid something much more serious.

    1. MistOrMister*

      She really did him a good turn! Even if nothing had ever been definitively proven against Arthur and he had been allowed back, the stigma of that supposed harrassment could have followed him for the rest of his career. I absolutely understand Arthur choosing to move even after everything came to light, but t least it was made clear to absolutely everyone that Tom fabricated the whole situation.

      1. Jess*

        Yes. A dear and wonderful friend, a lifelong educator and champion of the underdog, was accused of racism by a student he mildly verbally disciplined for unsafe/aggressive behavior in the hallways. A calmer, sweeter, more mild mannered person one could not imagine. How do you prove a negative?

        He lost his career, a 30 year pension bonus just shy of that date, and had a complete nervous breakdown/loss of personal faith in himself. Also tragedy for the greater student body who he adored and who relied on his guidance and enthusiasm for their work.

        None of us want harassment or racist remarks/behavior to be let slide and it is everyday. People who lodge untrue accusations to get out of some minor kerfuffle with their own behavior are sad beings who then must live with the knowledge of what they have wrought if they ever develop a proper conscience.

        1. Lisa*

          Oh no. I’ve witnessed something similar. It’s a terrible, soul-destroying loss to go through that. I’m so sorry for your friend.

        2. properlike*

          Agreed. I had to leave a new job because my new colleague started spreading rumors on day one. Better to leave with a reputation for “abrupt quitting” (and leave it off my resume) than stay and let this deeply insecure person keep their sad little patch of personal power.

    2. Observer*

      Not just potentially – it’s clear that Arthur had a rough time of it. It really sounds like HR was going in with the assumption that Arthur was guilty and was going to have to prove that he wasn’t. And that’s really hard to prove in that kind of context.

    3. ferrina*

      Absolutely. Tom tried to torpedo Arthur’s career and his confidence. Tom was able to harm Arthur’s mental health (I know I’d have a hard time trusting after that), but didn’t hurt Arthur’s career. It makes sense that Arthur would need a clean break, but it sounds like he didn’t need to take a financial hit to get there. I know it feels like not enough, but OP did as much as she could do and it made a big difference.

      1. Kyrielle*

        The difference between “a member of this team accused me of sexual harrassment and the whole team heard about it; I can’t work in this space with this group, it’s too painful” and being fired with a black mark is huge. Yes, Arthur took the hit of the accusation landing, but the OP saved him from worse consequences.

        1. Quill*

          Yeah. Arthur is not having a GOOD time, but he’s having a time that won’t negatively impact his employment in the future.

  3. MistOrMister*

    Boy, do I feel terrible for Arthur. I cannot imagine how he must have felt in that situation. So glad OP spoke to HR and exposed Tom’s lies. And I sure did cackle and say a thanks to the karma gods that Tom got caught selling those fake certificates and got fired!! What a lovely thing to have happen to someone deserving.

  4. 3DogNight*

    The update to the update is…WOW!
    I’m so sad for Arthur, and hope he is doing well. I am grateful to you for stepping up for him. I know it was hard, and you did the right thing!

  5. Fluffy Fish*

    Be proud of yourself for doing the right thing OP. Know that even with Arthur’s understandable change, people sticking up for him did mean something.

    I hope with time, space, and the relocation Arthur is able to heal.

    1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      Agreed. Arthur may not have know who the initial allegations came from and just felt even though he was cleared it would be safest to leave that branch before the person who complained tried a different approach.

      But I’m also glad that Tom got his comeuppance- he deserved it.

      1. Mango Freak*

        Honestly it’s not clear to me whether HR handled the initial allegation properly. Tom made a pretty vague accusation to merit immediately putting Arthur on leave–I know this isn’t the US, but Tom didn’t even try to allege a pattern of harassment. Is it typical to act that quickly, that strongly? Or was this classic gay panic?

        I’m guessing Arthur thought the latter. This wasn’t exactly an elaborate frame-job Tom was pulling; he was right, the company did make it easy.

    2. ferrina*

      The thing is….Arthur doesn’t know who did or didn’t stick up for him. HR tends to keep these things confidential (for very good reasons) so all Arthur would know was that there was an accusation and he was found not guilty. That would be enough to make me paranoid, and I think it was smart of Arthur to give himself a fresh start.

      OP was able to give Arthur the space to make that fresh start. She is likely pivotal in the HR investigation, which means that Arthur won’t have this hanging over his professional career. Arthur wasn’t able to continue to work in the same space (understandably), but it sounds like he didn’t lose any ground on his career. I hope Arthur is able to heal- he’s really been through it!

      1. Kyrielle*

        It sounds like he was able to stay in the same company, which if OP had not spoken up he might not have been. I also hope he heals, but I’m glad OP spoke up, I suspect it made a huge difference. And his mental health would probably be in a much worse place if the outcome of the investigation had been worse.

      2. Fluffy Fish*

        “I managed to speak with him before he left, and he said he no longer felt comfortable working here, even though people showed support. ”

        By OP’s own account it does in fact seem that Arthur was aware that people did stick up for him

    3. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

      This. OP, it sounds like you did everything anyone could reasonably have asked you to do in this situation. You did the hard thing and went to HR, even though Horace had tried to foreclose that option. And you tried to give support to Arthur when he returned and was clearly not doing great. I can imagine it was really hard to figure out how to offer support to your manager without overstepping or making things worse somehow.

  6. Not Tom, Just Petty*

    Very proud of you, OP. Well done. You jumped into the professional pool head first and it was a lovely dive. No excessive splash or collateral damage. Straight facts.
    Not smooth for the new manager. His situation is like the “you can do better boyfriend” yesterday, where he’s pushed aside as an embarrassment.
    “Er, yes, sorry about that. We were doing our due diligence. You understand. It’s not personal. We have to investigate these things.”
    So Tom is hanged by his own petard, but guess what? New guy was still investigated. I hope Tom is convicted.

    1. AngryOctopus*

      I mean, it’s not ideal for Arthur, but I’d rather a company investigate false accusations and not ignore a real one. It’s NOt personal. They have an obligation to investigate. If you were being harassed you wouldn’t want to hear “oh, but he’s new and he’s such a nice guy, so we’re not going to investigate.”

      1. metadata minion*

        Yeah, absolutely. I’m sure it would be a horrible experience to be investigated for something I completely didn’t do, but if it were carried out responsibly and effectively, part of me would be glad to see they took accusations of wrongdoing so seriously.

        Sometimes “nice” people are only “nice” to certain demographics. Sometimes people who are jerks or terrible employees are also legitimately the victims of harassment.

      2. M*

        Also, like – from HR’s perspective, they’ve got an employee who’s been there for years, very likely without any red flags (because the previous manager played favourites, yes, but the previous manager also sounds reasonably effective at keeping HR from knowing that) accusing a new manager of harassment. I’m not saying they handled it perfectly, but suspending the new manager while they investigate is the right call – and, indeed, from the original letter, sounds like their standard practice.

        The problem here is Tom, and, indeed, Horace. Having robust harm minimisation procedures for when handling a serious allegation isn’t.

  7. Generic Name*

    Thank you for updating us! What Tom did to Arthur is reprehensible. And I am zero surprised that someone who so easily lies to benefit themselves is doing other unscrupulous things.

    1. Observer*


      This is someone who is willing to be hugely unethical and dishonest for personal gain. It’s not at all surprising that he would do other dishonest and unethical things.

      1. Hannah Lee*

        “… someone who is willing to hugely unethical and dishonest …”

        and not just in an abstract way, playing the system where the people harmed by his behaviors are removed from him.

        He was willing to lie in a way that would harm someone he directly knew and would see suffering from his lies every single day … until the poor guy (who had done absolutely nothing TO Tom had his career and reputation completely destroyed. That’s a special kind of purposeful evil.

        1. RVA Cat*

          This. “Bearing false witness” makes the top ten because it’s not just lying, it’s committing perjury.

  8. ENFP in Texas*

    This is the one letter in the past year that I really wanted to see an update about. I am glad to see that you went to HR and that they handled it. You ABSOLUTELY did the right thing.

    I feel so bad for Arthur, and I hope he finds success and happiness in his new role.

    As for Tom…

    “Tom was selling fake medical certificates within the company and got caught. Since it’s considered a crime here, Tom was fired on the spot (along with some friends who bought the certificates) and could face criminal charges.”

    Good riddance to bad rubbish. And he has no one to blame but himself.

  9. MsSolo (UK)*

    Oof. Funny how often someone who is comfortable doing one wildly unethical thing is also comfortable doing others, isn’t it? I hope Tom is criminally prosecuted (and I would not be shocked if other crimes emerged).

    And poor Arthur, but his discomfort returning to the same office makes sense, and I hope the move helps him heal.

    1. But what to call me?*

      My reaction was half ‘what in the world!?’ and half ‘of course he was’. But 100% thrilled that this guy is finally facing consequences for at least some of his actions.
      (I’m sure he considers it terribly unfair, though.)

  10. IrishCatLover*

    I feel so sorry for Arthur and sincerely hope the move works out for him and he can move on from what happened.

    As for Tom, karma is a b*tch! He got exactly what he deserved.

  11. Hornswoggler*

    Tom is a villain of the deepest dye. I’m so glad he has got his comeuppance. I feel so bad for Arthur – poor man. Well done LW for doing the right thing.

  12. Bringerofbrownies*

    Definitely understand Arthur’s POV and truly hope he can get back to being his professionally comfortable self. Hope Tom ends up with jail time, penniless, heartbroken, and burning in hell. In the most recent words of Taylor Swift, “the trash takes itself out every time.”

  13. Observer*

    It’s good thing that criminals are so often either stupid or so arrogant that they shoot themselves in the foot.

    Tom must have had a pretty good thing going with those certificates. If he’d used some sense he would have realized that he needed to give up the preferred vacation to keep under the radar – this kind of investigation can definitely turn up stuff that you would not expect.

    1. higheredadmin*

      His preferred/manager-ish status probably gave him very good cover for his certificate scheme. So glad to hear he got busted, and fingers crossed for some criminal prosecution.

      1. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

        And I’ve got to wonder how much Horace knew or ought to have known. Though I don’t want to take us down a tangential rabbit hole. Particularly since the OP definitely already knows not to trust Horace about stuff. If he knew / approved of Tom’s fraud scheme, it would just be extra evidence to steer clear as much as possible

    2. But what to call me?*

      Or even just not bragged about what he’d done in an open office!

      He must have been so proud of his ‘clever’ plan that he just couldn’t resist telling his friends about it. Which is how a surprising number of criminals get caught, now that I think about it. That or assuming that no one but their victim would care enough to do anything about it if they did find out.

  14. Juicebox Hero*

    Even though Arthur didn’t want to talk to you, I’m sure he appreciated that you were willing to actually help him instead of ignoring or supporting Tom’s shenanigans.

    As for Tom, there’s definitely a bad apple rotten all the way to the core.

  15. Aquamarine*

    Thanks for telling HR what happened, OP! You prevented this from being a real disaster.
    I hope things go well for Arthur at the new place – I feel just awful for him.
    And F Tom.

  16. Phony Genius*

    Based on how Arthur changed, it sounds like HR still considered the complaint to be legitimate, even with the information presented by the LW. This is understandable because all HR has to go on is Tom said, Arthur said, LW said, friend said. (Security cameras were mentioned in the original letter, but it’s often too hard to tell what’s happening in that type of footage.) They probably told him something like “regardless of how you behaved before, you are now to behave this way…”

    1. Lisa B*

      I don’t know that I agree that HR considered the complaint to be legitimate… it could just be Arthur’s natural reaction to be accused in this manner. Knowing that someone on his team was willing to lie, so now you have to be 1000% on edge and can’t let your guard down around anyone because you don’t know the team well enough to know who’s trustworthy and who’s your troublemaker.

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        I also agree it was probably self-protection. And the transfer to another branch as well. Why would anyone want to stay at a place of business where they were falsely accused if they have other viable options. I hope the change lets Arthur heal.

      2. Turquoisecow*

        Yeah if I was Arthur, being exonerated wouldn’t make me feel better. Tom’s been at the company a long time and he probably has many friends and allies at the company who may take his side, Arthur wouldn’t want to be always looking over his shoulder wondering who he could or could not trust. I hope he’s at a much better job now.

      3. LCH*

        agree with this. if i had a coworker do something this terrible, my demeanor at work would also change. especially if i was new to the company and didn’t have a long history of trusting my coworkers.

      4. Aquamarine*

        Exactly – how could Arthur ever feel comfortable or happy in that workplace ever again?
        It’s still a sad ending, but LW prevented it from being so much worse.

      5. Julian*

        Agreed, as a gay person I’ve always been worried as coming off as “creepy” to others, just by virtue of homophobia and transphobia. Even if HR made it clear everything was cleared, I’d act the way Arthur is acting now. Its self-protection in a world deeply hostile to LGBT folks right now.

      6. Parakeet*

        Yep. I’ve seen situations where people were falsely accused of bad interpersonal things and it really damaged them, changed the way they engaged with other people. Including having their guard up a lot more, and seeing potential landmines everywhere. I’ve had some of the same changes just from being in proximity to them.

      7. Alternative Person*

        Same. I got reported recently for saying something, where what I said was both misquoted and taken completely out of context.

        I’ve explained the full context and tried to make amends but yeah, they’re not going to get much from me but mild weather and small talk.

    2. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      It would be very natural for Arthur to be super-cautious after false allegations. He might well fear other disgruntled employees, maybe friends of Tom, would try again.

      There is still a lot of homophobia around, which would add to his concerns. Despicable of Tom who absolutely knew what he might stir up.

      1. Blonde Spiders*

        It’s hard for many LGBTQIA folks to truly be themselves in the workplace because of sh*t like this. Arthur’s new demeanor seems textbook self preservation for this kind of incident.

        Back in my retail days, ’98 maybe, I got written up for mentioning I had a date with a girl (I’m a woman.) I got lectured on “talking about my sex life at work” even though all I said was that I’d gone out with her. You’d better believe I never talked about my social life or anything else after that.

        1. Matt*

          Exactly. Besides being an entirely fabricated allegation of sexual harassment, it was also an act of homophobic discrimination: Tom decided to use this method to target Arthur because Arthur was openly gay. That would sour me on any workplace and make me wary and closed regardless of a complete exoneration.

          1. properlike*

            YES. And though the company is not in the US, I wonder if Arthur would have a winning criminal or civil case against Tom for harassment/slander? There was actual damage done here.

            1. Mango Freak*

              He might even have a case against the company tbh, if they acted on the complaint more quickly/severely than they do on inter-gender harassment complaints (which would not remotely surprise me).

    3. NotARealManager*

      Could be, but it’s also very likely that even if HR told Arthur they were dismissing the complaint and apologized profusely Arthur would still not want to be there anymore and feel irrevocably hurt by that team. I’m glad he’s been able to move elsewhere.

    4. Lana Kane*

      This is self protection on Arthur’s part. He removed any and all situations that could conceivably support Tom’s claim, especially in the eyes of someone who might be looking to find that support. Let’s not forget that LGBTQ+ individuals are more likely to be considered predatory – even just closing the office door during a meeting could be used as fodder. And if this were a male/female dynamic, it would likely be the same way. This happened to a male professor of mine who was accused by a female student of coming on to her. My professor was gay and absolutely not interested, but he made similar changes as Arthur after he was accused (and exonerated). Office hours were open door, minimal personal conversations, etc.

    5. r.*

      Not necessarily.

      The only way Arthur could’ve possibly (and even then it’d be far from a certainty; it is a very bad situation) been able to continue manage the team was if Tom had been fired for cause. It would be completely and utterly impossible for Arthur to continue managing an employee who had lied in order to get their boss fired for a reason like this. As a matter of fact, based on the description of the sick leave arrangements I can make an educated guess at a number of countries LW could be from, and I am reasonably certain that Tom’s accusation would’ve been a crime in itself.

      But of course there’s going to be a “but” to this, so here it is:

      While it isn’t a good idea to tolerate criminal conduct from employees trying to advance their own career, firing people over false allegations of sexual misconduct is not something the company may do. There are reasonable concerns over the chilling effects it may have on genuine victims.

      So you end up with a problem set like the following:
      1) You have Tom, who’s lied their butt of in order to get Arthur fired.
      2) Even if you *know* Tom lied, you may not want to fire him over it due to said chilling concerns.
      3) Arthur can’t continue to manage the team without Tom getting sacked.
      4) You can’t be sure if there aren’t other Toms in that team. As a matter of fact, if the other coworker was speaking the truth to Tom over not ratting him out to HR, you *know* there’s at least one “Tom-like” employee; they *should’ve* gone to HR like LW did.
      5) Hence even if you fire Tom you can’t be sure that Arthur can remain that team’s manager.

      Here’s how you might solve this under the assumption that you believed Tom to be guilty:
      1) Transfer Arthur in order to limit further damages to the career of an innocent
      2) Dissolve the team to break up “Horace’s clique”, and to remove intra-team support suspect employees may have for future shenanigans
      3) Assign the employees you not only suspect but know are problematic to experienced managers that’d likely be much harder to impeach than a newcomer.
      4) Have a good, long, hard looksie if there isn’t another reason to fire Tom over.

      And it turns out that this is a pretty good explanation of what the company ended up doing …

      1. r.*

        “not something the company may do” should have read as “not something the company may want to do”

      2. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

        All of this makes a lot of sense. And great point about the risks of firing Tom – even when it’s clear he lied his face off – having a chilling effect on other people reporting. In a big company, most people aren’t going to get even close to the full story. Especially if HR is competent and is keeping things confidential. The only things people will be hearing are rumours.

    6. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

      I don’t really agree with you that it sounds like HR considered the complaint to be legitimate. Particularly since they presumably didn’t broadcast their findings around the organization. It’s possible that all many people know is the rumours. And the fact that Arthur was away tells people that HR was investigating something. And Arthur came back before Tom’s fraud scheme was found out.

      Add in that some people are predisposed to believe claims of sexual impropriety from gay, lesbian, and queer people. This is because of stereotypes that LGBTQ+ people are promiscuous. These beliefs aren’t only held by raging homophobes. There is some evidence that some people involved in wrongful convictions figure that it doesn’t matter because that person probably did something else awful. Applied here, that would manifest as people believing that just because Arthur didn’t do anything inappropriate to Tom, that doesn’t mean that he didn’t do *something* to *someone*. I’m absolutely not saying this happened in this case, just that it’s reasonable to hypothesize that these dynamics may have been in play.

      Beyond that, I get why Arthur would have serious questions about who in that office he could trust. The behaviour of the Toms of the world don’t arise in a vacuum. Something in the environment indicated to Tom that he could do all this stuff. It makes sense to wonder how many others in that office think like Tom. Or wonder who his friends are and what they might do next. It’s not awesome to look around your workplace and wonder if anyone else there is hatching a plot to screw you over. Meaning having to deal with the same situation as before. A good resolution doesn’t mean that the process didn’t absolutely suck.

      So I get why Arthur would choose to leave even if he was fully exonerated by HR.

  17. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

    Poor Arthur. I hope he felt able to change back to normal interactions with his employees in his new job, instead of keeping to the serious minimum, but it’s so difficult to trust again.

  18. Kat*

    You did the right thing, OP. With Horace you had a really toxic manager. That can mess with anyone’s professional norms, let alone if it’s your first office job, but your instincts here were spot on and you did brilliantly.

    Hopefully with your new manager you can re-learn some of Horace’s lessons in a more healthy way (don’t go to HR about coworkers if you’re fired? Yeah, because he knew at least one of his favourites truly deserved to be fired and he was protecting him. Tom is a nightmare, but I’m also side eyeing Horace pretty intensely)

    1. Juicebox Hero*

      Good point about Horace. What a craphead, making his employees afraid of HR like that. It makes me wonder what kind of shenanigans he was up to himself and why he was trying to cover his behind. No wonder he and Tom were such good buddies; birds of a feather.

      1. Observer*

        It makes me wonder what kind of shenanigans he was up to himself and why he was trying to cover his behind

        Well, yes. Except that we already know about some of his shenanigans.

        Not that I would be too shocked if there were *more* shenanigans. But clearly, even the obvious stuff was something he didn’t want HR to realize. Too bad that someone or something tipped them off.

      2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        Does HR need to know about every less than optimal interaction between two employees – probably not. But HR exists to protect the company’s best interests. And they can’t do that if they don’t have full information.

        Tom’s comments weren’t gossip – they were a threat to everyone (he did it to Arthur because he didn’t like being actually held accountable for his work and conduct). If he was willing to file a false accusation against his manager, who knows what he would have done to a peer or someone he thought he outranks on the Org Chart.

      3. Piscera*

        Yes. I knew some people who were fired for serious misconduct/helping cover it up. On an unrelated note, the cover-uppers had gotten away with other things for ages. Afterward I heard they may have had something on a longtime office manager, who’d left a while before the firing drama.

  19. A CAD Monkey*

    Good going OP. Arthur’s reputation will hopefully recover. Tom is getting his comeuppance and hopefully more. I’m just wondering now how much Horace had a hand in what Tom was doing.

  20. Double A*

    Wow, that was a journey! I really hope Arthur knows about the update to the update. Even though it is terrible he had to go through this, knowing that Tom had his behavior come back to bite him so spectacularly has got to be gratifying.

  21. Pastor Petty Labelle*

    Good for you OP.

    But how horrible that you were made to think going to HR would result in YOU being fired eventually. That is not how functional companies work. Layoffs are based on company need, and HR usually does not make the decision of who to fire.

    I hope you will keep this in mind as you go along. But good for you for going to HR. HR did handle it, even if something caused Arthur to change. He was right to move on. Sometimes people need a fresh start — even after exoneration.

    1. I should really pick a name*

      Arthur is still apparently traumatized by the experience, so I don’t think I’d go that far.

    2. Forrest Rhodes*

      I think JMA is referring to the update-t0-the-update, i.e., Tom’s comeuppance, no? In which case, I totally agree.

  22. Rainy*

    Gonna be honest, I was not expecting the second update! Just think–if Tom had just done his job instead of trying to undermine other people, he’d…still have a job.


    1. LifeBeforeCorona*

      If Tom was smart he would know better than to draw attention to himself while committing a crime.

      1. Observer*

        December 6, 2023 at 11:49 am

        If Tom was smart he would know better than to draw attention to himself while committing a crime.

        Yup. That just kind of blows my mind. Unfortunately, I’m no longer surprised at people being unethical. And we already knew that Tom is massively unethical. But this level of self-destructive stupidity still blows me away.

      2. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

        LOL, yup. It’s pretty remarkable how often people committing long-term crimes get overconfident and either blab or just draw too much attention to themselves. Looking at you, Jen Shah and Erika Jayne / Tom Girardi.

  23. Sparkles McFadden*

    This is a very good update! You did a great thing, LW, eventhough it was something that scared you, and your company handled it just right. They broke the department up to disrupt whatever odd relationships had formed. They moved Tom to a manager who would keep an eye on him, and moved Arthur to a new branch where he could start over. Without your actions, this might have gone another way. Arthur was harmed, but hopefully his reputation is still intact and he can recover from this.

    The update to the update did not surprise me at all. As someone already stated in the comments, unethical people do multiple unethical things. The company probably kept Tom on the job, waiting for him to do the next unethical thing that was totally unrelated to the harassment claim he made. That makes it so Tom can’t claim he got fired for reporting harassment (which is something he would probably do). It also protects Arthur, as the baseless claim was made by an employee who got fired for committing fraud.

  24. MuseumChick*

    I’m glad that nothing worse happened, but I am so sad for Arthur. He probably won’t be able to fully trust anyone at work again, not matter what team he is on.

    1. Turquoisecow*

      I hope his new job lets him be himself around coworkers without worrying about false complaints.

  25. Veryanon*

    Tom is really a very slimy and unethical person. So glad karma caught up with him! You did the right thing, OP.

  26. LifeBeforeCorona*

    The last update showed that Tom was a bad person in every other way possible. If you are doing a crime, don’t do anything to draw attention to yourself. I’m betting some of his “friends” threw him under the bus.

    1. BellyButton*

      That was one of the most shocking updates I think we have ever had! He is a horrible horrible person!

  27. Turquoisecow*

    I’m sorry Arthur felt he had to leave the company but I don’t blame him for feeling as though he’d lost the ability to be himself with the team, and I hope he is in a better place now.

    And yay for Tom getting his just desserts, even if it wasn’t for the reason we hoped/wanted.

  28. Fledge Mulholland*

    What struck me in your update was how Horace was probably trying to keep his reports from going to HR to bring up the very real concerns they would have about his favoritism. The OP thought Horace was teaching her good work practice about when it’s appropriate to go to HR when really he was just trying to cover his own behind.

    1. Emily*

      Exactly! Just like the recent letter with the manager who was lying to her employee’s and didn’t want them speaking to the manager’s manager.

    2. ThisIsNotADuplicateComment*

      Oh absolutely. OP feel free to wipe basically everything that Horace ever taught you from your head. He was just as slimy as Tom.

    3. Jennifer Strange*

      Oh 100%. Folks who care about making sure people are able to report concerns want to give them more avenues to do it, not fewer.

  29. Jennifer Strange*

    Poor Arthur. I completely understand why he felt he had to transfer out, but I’m really sorry it happened. I’m glad to hear he had support from you and others, though, and I’m hopeful he (and you!) are able to move on from this horrible incident

  30. ThisIsNotADuplicateComment*

    Here to add to the pile and say that even if the original resolution with Arthur was bittersweet it was 1000% better than him being fired (and maybe even charged!) due to false allegations. You did a very good thing OP. Life may not be perfect – but things like what you did stop it from being awful.

  31. Twix*

    Boy I have deeply mixed feelings about this update. LW, you absolutely did the right thing here, and I’m glad Tom will be facing some comeuppance for being a terrible person. But as a queer man myself I feel deeply for Arthur – false accusations like this weaponize queer identities and systemic homophobia – and am seriously disturbed that Tom probably would have kept his job if not for also committing illegal fraud.

    1. Maisonneuve*

      Yeah, I’m confused and wonder if I missed something. Why wasn’t Tom fired because of the false accusation? How is that not as bad as faking medical certificates?

      OP, you did good. I hope you and Arthur have every success.

      1. Silver Robin*

        another comment thread mentions an explanation which I appreciated, because I was confused too.

        Their thought is that the company might be a lot more reticent to fire someone for false accusations because it can have a chilling effect on reports. If you are worried that being unable to prove an accusation will get you fired, then you might not speak up, especially since this kind of behavior often happens in murky I said/they said situations.

        1. Maisonneuve*

          Thanks for the info. I found that comment. I see the logic of it, but it still doesn’t sit right with me. Not firing him for a false accusation could also have a chilling effect if people think that harassment isn’t taken seriously and leaves doubt about Arthur’s innocence. Anyway, I don’t know what HR knew so, maybe it was their best option.

        2. Twix*

          Yeah, unfortunately that is a totally valid concern. As much as it bothers me that that was the outcome if I try to put myself in HR’s shoes and not take it for granted that LW is a reliable narrator, I can understand not wanting to fire someone for filing a harassment complaint without absolutely bulletproof evidence that it was false and filed maliciously.

          And that’s part of why this bothers me so much. So many straight men find the very idea of a man being attracted to them to be borderline (or full-on) sexual harassment that unless the accuser is extremely stupid, proving an accusation was made in bad faith you basically have to be able to prove that you not only did nothing wrong, but also never did anything totally innocuous that could possibly be misinterpreted as attraction by a highly biased observer, which is all but impossible.

        3. Ms. Murchison*

          That would make sense if Tom hadn’t bragged about his lies in a public space and targeted a gay man using dangerous homophobic stereotypes. Then the bigger message you’re broadcasting is that straight men can get away with murder and queer people aren’t safe.

          1. Twix*

            That’s exactly the problem. On the one hand, it really isn’t a good idea for HR to assume that if a third party claims one of the first two is lying then they are, especially when the party who would benefit from that is the third person’s boss. Assuming we take LW at their word, we know that she was acting in good faith. HR does not. On the other hand, your last sentence is spot on.

          2. Observer*

            Then the bigger message you’re broadcasting is that straight men can get away with murder and queer people aren’t safe.

            There is. however, a similar concern that the (incorrect) message of firing him for “reporting” (scare quotes because it was not actually a legitimate report, but others don’t *know* that) is that reporting *homosexual* harassment could get you fired. That’s a problem too.

            Again, keep in mind that HR can’t make sure that people actually know why he was fired. So it’s difficult no matter how you slice it.

      2. Sparkles McFadden*

        From a cynical standpoint, HR’s job is to keep the company from being sued and/or looking bad. If they let Tom go right away, it’s looks like they punished someone for reporting on a manager. Even if Tom is 100% in the wrong, it’s better for HR to keep Tom on and keep an eye on him. Firing someone after they report sexual harassment is not a good look and it keeps people from reporting legitimate concerns.

        From a practical standpoint, HR handled this very well. From where they sit, they don’t know if Tom is the only problem. I would bet they had some idea of Horace’s dealings. So, they break everyone up and assign Tom to a long-time manager and they wait to see what happens. People like Tom can’t control themselves because they think they are smarter than everyone else, so it never takes long. It’s better to fire someone for two unrelated reasons, especially when one of those reasons has hard, objective proof behind it. I’ll bet HR is watching Horace’s other favorites closely, and that none of them are working together.

        It’s also better for Arthur as there is now proof of fraud. Knowing someone got transferred after an allegation of sexual harassment might leave people wary. Fewer people will be concerned about such an allegation when they know it came from a known fraud.

        1. Twix*

          Yeah, as much as it sucks this is more of a “I hate the we live in a universe where people can do something as despicable as what Tom did and not be held accountable” situation than an “I think HR mishandled it” situation. HR can’t (or at least shouldn’t) ignore sexual harassment complaints, or jump to conclusions about what happened based on limited evidence, or treat they-said/they-said situations like a popularity contest, or give the appearance of retaliating against employees who file complaints against people above them. All of those norms exist to protect victims. It’s nobody but Tom’s fault that he weaponized them.

      3. Observer*

        Yeah, I’m confused and wonder if I missed something. Why wasn’t Tom fired because of the false accusation? How is that not as bad as faking medical certificates?

        At least in the US, you have to be very, very careful when dealing with false accusations – retaliation is illegal (for good reason!), but it can be very difficult to prove cause in a case like this. But I would honestly not be surprised if this whole mess lead to this other stuff being found.

        Firstly, the person he originally told that he’s been lying was probably good and mad at Tom over the argument they had. I would not be surprised if he provided some information to HR. Secondly, I would be very surprised if HR didn’t start really investigating anything and everything about Tom. Because once you know that someone can behave like this, you need to figure out if it’s a one off (not likely) or there is more going on. As there was in this case.

    2. Lydia*

      I’m still not sure how on earth Tom didn’t get fired for filing a false sexual harassment report. How is that not a fireable offense, even if the OP is in a different country?

      1. New Jack Karyn*

        Because HR can’t tell everyone why Tom was fired. They don’t want the rumor mill churning, alleging that he was fired for reporting his manager for sexual harassment that was unfounded. They don’t want people believing that an unfounded report will get someone fired . . . and they especially don’t want people believing that any report against a manager will get you fired.

        HR knows Tom lied. So does OP, and probably several other people who overheard that conversation. But it’s a big company, and rumors can run wild very quickly. “A lie can go around the world while the truth is still getting its boots on.”

    3. Ms. Murchison*

      Exactly. I’m confused by all the cheering about Tom’s firing in the comments; there’s nothing good about him being kept on after a a false sexual harassment claim especially in a situation like this where it plays into dangerous homophobic fears. I’m glad that the LW took Alison’s advice and went to HR, but the fact that Tom wasn’t fired based on that offense alone is a grave failing on the company’s and HR’s part.

      1. Jennifer Strange*

        The problem is that for HR it’s not completely clear that it was a false claim. All they know is Tom said one thing and the LW said another, and barring anything else (other people reporting Tom’s comments, a history of similar instances from Tom, etc.) you can’t really make a call on who exactly is lying and what the truth is.

        1. Ms. Murchison*

          HR knows that Tom claimed one thing, Arthur claimed another, and LW said that she heard Tom brag about lying to HR to get rid of Arthur. It stopped being he said/he said at that point.

          1. Jennifer Strange*

            It really didn’t though. If I go to HR with a concern about my boss, then someone comes in and says I bragged about lying, should it just be assumed that I am lying? If that were the case I would never feel comfortable reporting anything since that person could get a friend to claim I was lying. That’s not the best way to go about this, and it ends up silencing real victims.

        2. Phony Genius*

          Yes, short of a confession by Tom, they probably have to treat him like any other accuser. Otherwise, the optics become “the company fired somebody who made a sexual harassment complaint that they couldn’t prove.”

        3. Aggretsuko*

          I’ve been falsely accused myself. There wasn’t any evidence proving I did it besides the anonymous letter, so I didn’t get fired, but I still got written up for the incident anyway. Once someone tries to taint you in that way, you’re still probably screwed.

  32. boof*

    Uhg, goes to show once again when someone is as morally bankrupt as Tom it’s seldom confined to just one or two hideous things.
    I’m a little shocked Tom wasn’t fired for the obviously false allegation (seriously, he bragged about it in an open office, and then argued about it again in said open office where multiple others overheard???)
    I do feel really bad for Arthur and understand why he’d just want to move on – he sounded like he was a great manager too. At least the one who took over sounded like they were also pretty good. And boo on your prior manager horace who favored tom and told you to never go to HR (hopefully it’s obvious now Horance told you that because he knew he would get in trouble / wanted to keep his crappy management antics from getting out)

    1. Heidi*

      The one part I still don’t understand is why the open office made it less likely that Tom saw the OP while he was bragging about his odious behavior. I’d have thought the open plan would make it easier to see who else was in the room.

      1. The Formatting Queen*

        I’m imagining that working in the open plan office most of the time makes it easier to forget that other people are actually there, especially if there’s a polite fiction that everyone is in their own workspace and they usually try to keep to themselves. People sitting at desks just tend to blend in to the background more. Just a theory.

  33. Beth*

    They might have. Or he might have been uncomfortable being friendly and casual with the team where he was accused of misconduct–even if most people are being openly supportive, he’s got to have wondered if some had quiet doubts. Or he might have been acting out of self-protection, shutting down the potential for future false accusations so no one could target him like this again. Regardless, it’s good to hear that he got to move to a new team and that he seems to be doing better there.

  34. Jiminy Cricket*

    This is such a good example of how abusive people try to silence others, especially the young, naive, and good-hearted. Horace was already silencing you before Tom even hurt Arthur, with his nonsense about not going to HR.

    Speaking up to an authority about wrongdoing is not gossip!

  35. HonorBox*

    Damn, I love this updated update! I feel horrible for Arthur. I wish the best for him and the OP. And OP, you handled this perfectly!

  36. SereneScientist*

    You did the right thing, LW, and ultimately it’s not surprising that Tom was engaging in other underhanded behavior given his willingness to lie. As a queer person, I feel absolutely awful for Arthur though. Given the heightened tensions and aggression towards the queer community these days, this has to be painful and I hope none of this follows him to that other department.

  37. lincva*

    I’m sad for Arthur but glad Tom will be facing repercussions for SOMETHING. (Also, not the point, but in LW’s original letter she referenced an older letter about a boss showing up to chemotherapy sessions; was there an update to THAT letter?)

    1. Aggretsuko*

      Hey, Al Capone got busted for tax evasion, right? At least he got busted for SOMETHING even if it wasn’t quite what he deserved to be busted for.

      1. Observer*

        Yes. And it makes me wonder if HR didn’t start digging into Tom once they realized what kind of person he is.

        Like “We can’t bust you for trying to game the system in this way, but let’s see if we can bust you for gaming it in a different way”. And then they struck gold.

  38. Karma is my Boyfriend*

    I was once formally reprimanded at a job for doing the same things the “favorites” did. It was the kind of job where we hung out after work and knew many personal details about our coworkers. Looking back, it was a super toxic workplace. After the reprimand, I immediately clamped down on any personal talk and basically kept my head down until I was able to gain confidence to apply for new jobs.

    When I moved to the new job, I acted similarly—no personal details, when I used a lot of vacation days in a row, I never talked about if I was going anywhere or what I was doing. I have been changed forever because of that one job. Sadly, not sharing personal details was my downfall—my boss at this new job formally reprimanded me for how I used my vacation days—never in a sequence, often a day here, a day there (it was the pandemic—there was nowhere to go!). So I found a new job.

    This new job, I happen to work with a girl I was friends with in college (we were neighbors in the dorms and in apartments, I was her personal attendant at her wedding), but we drifted apart just due to life. I was initially worried about how much she knew about me, but luckily she has been super open and excited to have me join the team. I still don’t share things, but I’m definitely more comfortable than before.

    All this to say—I feel for Arthur! This will change him for the rest of his life and I’m so sad it happened. Tom is a jerk and I’m glad karma got him.

    1. Rainbow*

      You were formally reprimanded for using vacation days sporadically? Colour me extremely confused.

      1. Phony Genius*

        I’ve always done it that way. Never a problem. (My bosses think it’s weird, but I find it works better for me.)

  39. Rondeaux*

    Good thing Tom finally got let go, but I’m curious as to why he wasn’t fired earlier – it sounds like the company knew he lied?

    1. Jennifer Strange*

      As I said above, they didn’t know he lied, they just knew someone said he lied. Yes, we believe the LW (and not just because we’re supposed to) but I wouldn’t be comfortable working for a company that fired someone for reporting an issue just because someone else said they were lying (barring any other evidence).

      1. Rondeaux*

        Re-reading, i think you’re right. I thought multiple people had heard Tom discussing his evil plan, not just LW.

  40. anon for this*

    Thanks for speaking up, LW.

    I have been the subject of two different malicious complaints from people who didn’t think that a person with my immutable characteristics should be supervising them. They weren’t a matter of different interpretations of the same event where I had something to learn and correct or a misunderstanding but just outright fiction. Some of my colleagues came to *me* with overheard information confirming that the complaints were intentionally malicious but wouldn’t go to HR for fear of their own careers.

    Between meticulous documentation and sheer cussedness, I survived it. I still work at the same place and hold the same position. One of them still works for me. The other left of their own accord. It was a hard, lonely time and, while I sort of understand their reticence, I don’t fully trust my colleagues anymore.

  41. Me1980*

    I am so glad Tom is being held to account for truly despicable behavior, but how on earth did it take the fraudulent leave certificates to fire him!?! He falsified information to HR in an attempt to destroy a colleague’s life and career! He weaponized his sexuality and was a toxic manager to his team and put his company at risk.

    In my book, that should have been the very last straw.

  42. Donn*

    You did great, OP.

    I feel bad for Arthur, and wish him the best in his new position.

    We’ll never know, but I wonder if the employer was already aware of Tom’s certificate fraud, and was close to busting him when he accused Arthur.

    1. New Jack Karyn*

      I wonder if HR thought, “Tom’s a real shady character, I bet this lie isn’t the only thing he’s done,” and did a little digging. He’s so brazen that it might not have taken long to find.

  43. MrsThePlague*

    Random thought, but this outcome makes me so grateful for the existence of a resource like Ask A Manager. Without a place like this, the LW – being young and understandably inexperienced – might have continued to believe what her boss was telling her about HR and speaking up. Through AAM, though, she had access to excellent advice from a seasoned, reliable professional.

    Of course, this is not to take away from the courage and ethics it took the LW to speak up – I’m just grateful that she had someone there to help direct her natural good impulses towards the best course of action.

    Congrats to LW, and anonymously wishing Arthur the deepest of healing.

    1. I take tea*

      I thought this too. Because of AAM, OP has saved a persons career and even if Arthur is wary now, he will hopefully recover. And OP has learned that former boss just wanted to cover his ass by saying “never talk to HR”.

      Well done, OP, I wish you well and hope that work will be better from now on.

  44. New Jack Karyn*

    A couple of other people have mentioned this, but–this all goes back to Horace. If he’d been a decent manager, he would not have had Tom in his coterie of favorites (or have played favorites at all). This encouraged Tom to feel as though he was completely safe to do and say whatever he wanted.

    Horace also poisoned OP–and the rest of his team, no doubt–about going to HR. He actively established toxicity as an office norm. And he still has his job.

    1. anonymous 5*

      THIS. Horace still having his job is reason enough for Arthur to move to another team, even if Tom had been fired for the false accusation instead of the document forgery.

  45. KC*

    This was one of the saddest letters I’ve seen on this site. I’m glad that Tom got his comeuppance, but I feel so bad for Arthur even though this was probably the best outcome we could hope for. Thanks for standing up for him, and I hope he recovers from such an awful experience.

  46. Ferris Mewler*

    Thank you for the update, OP – you did the right thing! I feel for Arthur and I hate that Tom’s actions have likely scarred him for life, but I’m really glad that Tom is facing some consequences for his awful decisions.

  47. LW*

    LW here…

    Started typing this ’cause I felt like everyone was being too hard on Horace, he seems more like a grandpa with a few favorite grandkids than some big villain. But then I remembered this letter I read here where someone said, “She’s an honest person, except for that theft thing.” So maybe Horace is a bigger problem than I thought. Thanks for all the comments, a lot of you brought up points I hadn’t considered. Gonna try my best to explain, even though I don’t have answers to some of the questions.

    — The exact reason for Arthur’s absence wasn’t disclosed, and the person who reported it is still anonymous, or would’ve been if Tom hadn’t claimed it was him. That’s why his fight with his friend was a huge deal; a lot of confidential info got leaked. When HR started asking about Arthur, some thought he was the victim of harassment. Unlikely that the false accusation will reach the branches.

    — Tom didn’t get fired ’cause company policy protects whistleblowers from retaliation. And Tom’s really good at making it seem like it wasn’t his fault. I guess he convinced HR the report wasn’t made in bad faith.

    — I’ll never know if Tom saw me in the room or not. We’re so used to working in an open space with no walls, we’ve become experts at ignoring everything around us. I couldn’t tell you most of the conversations that happen around me every day, unless someone’s really loud or attention-grabbing.

    — The reason for Tom and the others getting fired was widely circulated, including an email changing the sick leave policy. Now, sick notes from direct family members won’t be accepted. (Rumors say Tom was using his doctor uncle to sign those notes.) And they emphasized that any kind of fraud is instant termination. Since Arthur’s a manager, he probably got informed about the policy change.

    — Don’t know if HR believed the accusation or if they thoroughly investigated Tom after it. Also, no updates on Arthur other than he’s still with the company.

    Thanks again for all the comments, y’all were really kind.

    1. Bill and Heather's Excellent Adventure*

      Thanks for giving us more info. I agree Horace may be a bigger problem than he seems.

  48. Bill and Heather's Excellent Adventure*

    Well done on speaking up, OP. Karma got him in the end, even if it wasn’t for that particular offence.

Comments are closed.