my employee faked an email

A reader writes:

My employee lied and said she cc’d the payroll department on an email about another employee, but payroll didn’t see it in their inbox. When I followed up with her about this, she forwarded the email to payroll “again,” but in fact just typed in
“” in the cc section of the original email before forwarding it, so it looked like the original email was sent to payroll when it really wasn’t.

When we couldn’t figure out what happened, my employee even sent the emails to our IT dept, asking them, “How could this happen?” How do I handle this?

I answer this question — and two others — over at Inc. today, where I’m revisiting letters that have been buried in the archives here from years ago (and sometimes updating/expanding my answers to them). You can read it here.

Other questions I’m answering there today include:

  •  Employee spends lunch hour driving for Uber
  • Coworkers are planning a weekend bridal shower for me and I don’t want to go

{ 249 comments… read them below }

  1. Keymaster in absentia*

    Oh goddess, don’t lie about the IT system. It’s ridiculously easy for us to prove someone’s fibbing.

    For non-IT personnel lying about an IT system I’d recommend a serious ‘now why did you lie about that instead of admitting an error?’ chat.

    If it was IT personnel however I’d come down on them like a sack of spuds hurled from a B52. That’s really unacceptable.

    1. Beth*

      Yeah, this is where it really gets egregious to me. An employee saying they did something when they didn’t? That happens. I think we’ve all had a moment of looking back and realizing we missed something–it’s not a big deal to say “I could have sworn I did that, but looking at the records, I guess I didn’t. Sorry about that, I’ll fix it now!”

      But by the time you’re doctoring records and blaming the disconnect on the IT system? You’re obviously dishonest (doctoring records shows you know what’s up and are lying intentionally); you’ve committed to doubling down on your lie instead of owning the mistake; and you’re also showing terrible judgment, that’s such a stupid lie to invest in, obviously IT can disprove it easily. That’s a big deal.

      1. SheLooksFamiliar*

        Same here. Sometimes Outlook is temperamental about attachments, emails, forwarding, etc. I’ was CERTAIN I attached something or included someone on forwarding or CC, but Outlook had other plans. This happens often enough that I triple-check my outgoing emails at work.

        Our IT department is pretty trustworthy. If the error is due to Outlook being buggy, they say so. If not, they can document that, too. So if one of my team told me, ‘I thought I included Payroll on that email, I apologize for the error,’ I’m fine because I’ve been there myself. But if they dig in their heels and insist otherwise, that’s a far different situation and, as you say, for a reason that can so easily be disproved.

        Just own the mistake, apologize for it, explain how you’ll handle the fallout, and how you’ll ensure you won’t repeat those errors,

    2. TG*

      Like I tell my child it’s much easier to admit a mistake than lie and try to cover it because inevitably the truth comes out. I’ve made many a mistake – we all have. I’d treat this seriously as noted but listen to what the employee says – if they express sincere regret I might give them another chance but keep them in a very tight leash.

      1. Hillary*

        yep, this is an example of what I learned in a program on civil service employee job rights, the lawyer said that many of his cases were “the infraction would have gotten them disciplined, the attempt at cover up got them fired”

    3. Lacey*

      Yes. A friend of mine managed someone who moved a deadline on their project management software – so he wouldn’t be late.

      But in manager mode… you can see who makes changes and when.
      So she knew he’d changed it the night before it was due.

      She called him out on it, but he doubled down. He thought if he could insist hard enough she’d have to believe it was a computer bug.

      1. Artemesia*

        I agree with Alison’s advice — if it is a generally really good employee, make a big deal of it – make clear it is a firing offense, and give them one more chance but keep them on a tight leash. If they are already a troublesome employee, fire them. You can’t have an employee who cooks records.

    4. Carl*

      We had an employee do this once. It was mind boggling! She forgot to send an email to an outside company to schedule a court reporter. That was not great, but she probably wouldn’t have been fired.

      But, instead of admitting it, she created a fake email to make it appear that she’d sent the email. (By altering the text of another email that she’d sent to the company.)

      What she failed to calculate is that it would have been a BIG DEAL for outside company to mess this up. So boss complained. And company forwarded the actual email that had been sent at that date/time. Which lead to an IT investigation, which quickly confirmed employee had lied. She was immediately fired for cause.

      In some ways, I felt bad for her. She was relatively new to the firm (not to the field, though), and I imagine she just panicked.

      On the other hand, it was so outrageously stupid and I couldn’t have trusted her again with anything. It’s the kind of thing that makes you take stock of your desk items, just to make sure nothing is missing

      1. Bunny Lake Is Found*

        Ugh. Yeah. I really don’t understand this. I think people really believe that if they aren’t going to say “No, I didn’t send the email because I was [dragging my feet/not paying close enough attention/avoiding doing work]” then everything else is a lie anyway, so, in an effort to make the most convincing lie, they start down the road of aggressive and pointless deception.

        People! You don’t have to say “No, I didn’t send the email because I was doing a bad job”–just say “I thought I sent it, but I checked my sent mail and it looks like I didn’t.” Yes, technically, this is a lie– you KNOW you didn’t send it, but the key is that you aren’t putting this on anyone but yourself. And follow that up with, as Alison points out, what you will do in future to avoid making this mistake in future. That’s it! If you are going to get fired over not sending that specific email, you know there will likely be an inquiry into any claim that you did, actually, send it. No way most people can pull off a deep fake well enough to sell the lie. If you are either going to be fired for failing to send the email or fired for the cover-up. So if you don’t know if the mistake will get you fired, your odds are infinitely better by choosing to NOT to tell a lie that would necessitate forging evidence if you had to “prove” your story was true. Your best bet is to tell a version of the truth that frames this it as an understandable and out of character error on your part.

        Especially in the case of the employee here this choice is bizarre. She likely could have gone with some version of “It looked like I had sent this email, but the way the system is set up at this firm, I must have been misinterpreting it”–will it be a BS lie and excuse? Sure. But MOST places aren’t going to fire someone over a missed email. I don’t think those lawyers who missed a deadline for filing an appeal in a DEATH PENALTY case were fired. And if she was new to the firm and the firm had a quirky system for scheduling (and what law firm’s scheduling/calendaring/billables system isn’t quirky?), most people would chalk this up to something that occasionally happens, even to great employees, when they have to learn the nuances of a new workplace.

  2. desdemona*

    I’m so curious how LW1 is so certain that the employee just added the payroll email to the CC line after the fact, and not that payroll missed the email (or that it got eaten by the spam filter, or just disappeared into the ether).
    Hopefully IT can clear it up for them!

    1. Annony*

      I wonder who the original email was to since payroll was just cc’d. If it was the OP or if OP saw the original and there was no cc, I can see why they would assume the forwarded email was falsified.

    2. The day of Sue*

      Headline: “my employee faked an email”
      LW: “My employee lied and said she cc’d the payroll department on an email about another employee…”

      Aren’t we supposed to take people at their word and not second-guess?

      To the LW: I didn’t read Alison’s advice, but I’m curious: has your employee shown similar past behavior, or is this a first offense?

      1. BubbleTea*

        Inc has brought Alison’s columns out in front of the paywall, so you could read it if you wished!

      2. Cookingwithclaire*

        We’re supposed to take the LW at their word. Allison does that here with the headline.

      3. Jennifer Strange*

        Asking a question isn’t second-guessing or not taking them at their word, it’s asking for clarification.

        1. Quantum Possum*

          Honestly, I’m confused by the way this question is written. I don’t know how to address LW’s situation because I’m really not sure what happened. I feel like I would be having to fill in too many blanks.

          But operating on the assumption that the employee was proven to be lying – then yes, this alone could be a fireable offense, even if the employee is otherwise stellar. Personally, I would probably give one more chance to an otherwise-amazing employee, because sometimes life happens. But if I already had questions about their performance and/or judgment, this would be a deal-breaker incident.

          1. birb*

            When you forward an email, it sends a text version of the original recipients like this as part of the body of the email:

            From: Last, First
            Sent: Week Day, Date, Time
            To: Last, First , Last, First , Last, First
            Cc: Last, First Last, First Last, First
            Subject: Whatever

            When the employee lied and said they sent the email to payroll, they realized by forwarding it they’d be proving they never sent it to payroll, because this pops up! Instead of just sending an email separately saying “sorry, here’s that info” they essentially said “see, I DID send it to payroll, the system must be messed up!” and they changed the list of people they were CCed to. You can literally just add text. Now it looks like this:

            From: Last, First
            Sent: Week Day, Date, Time
            To: Last, First , Last, First , Last, First
            Cc: Last, First , Last, First , Last, First , payroll
            Subject: Whatever

            Now it looks like a digital record of her having absolutely CCed payroll. Payroll likely looked for the old version, saw they hadn’t received OR deleted it, and asked IT to look into it. IT would have pretty quickly pointed out that that’s not a real record of sending and confirmed pretty fast that her original email did NOT list them under the CC.

            I think maybe you’re having trouble because what the employee did was STUPID and only worked because everyone assumed good faith and no one at any point said “wait, can’t ANYONE change that at any time?” and just checked literally anyone else who was CCed on the original email. It’s wild to me that no one pointed that out before asking IT to investigate.

            1. Quantum Possum*

              I think maybe you’re having trouble because what the employee did was STUPID and only worked because everyone assumed good faith

              Thank you!! That was the trouble!

        2. The day of Sue*

          But clarification of what?, is my question. The person wrote in that the employee lied, and wants to know how to handle it. Not sure what there is to clarify; either the person lied, or didn’t. LW says “lied,” so that’s what I’m going with.

          1. Jennifer Strange*

            Clarification of whether the LW actually saw that the employee lied or if they’re just assuming they lied because the other department didn’t see the email (which could indeed have gotten lost in the internet). I know the LW did clarify in the original letter that they saw it for a fact that it was a lie on the employee’s part, but asking a clarifying question isn’t saying they’re wrong.

      4. desdemona*

        As written, the question left me wondering if LW was jumping to “the employee lied” and hadn’t heard back from IT about what actually happened. Which then the question becomes – what’s the work environment where it’s assumed someone is lying? Have they lied before?

        But apparently this is an older letter, and someone shared below that OP commented on the original explaining that IT had, in fact, verified that employee was lying.

      5. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

        I’m confused? Here in the AAM commentary, we’re supposed to take LW’s at their word. We don’t have to take the word of someone else entirely who didn’t write in. Or did I misunderstand you?

        1. desdemona*

          I think the day of Sue was noting that my comment isn’t taking LW at their word.
          I apologize for it reading that way – I was more wondering if/how LW had verified the lying versus suspecting the lying.

    3. Llama Llama*

      Yes she should definitely check to make sure that she isn’t lying before calling her out in lying. There are many times people claim that they didn’t get an email from me but it was definitely sent (not that the other team is even lying. Bad filtering happens).

      1. Busy Middle Manager*

        Also during the last update of Outlook, my office has been having issues with retrieving old emails. You search by a keyword and the email in question is the 100th one down the list, or it brings up ancient ones over the one from last week. Stuff like that. Since no one knows why Microsoft does what it does, it’s hard to troubleshoot

      2. samwise*

        Per the OP’s letter: the OP was pretty sure it was a lie based on what the employee did, but made sure by having IT look into it. The employee straight up lied.

      3. Bunny Lake Is Found*

        Bad filtering (why do we have “Junk” and “Promotions”), weird ‘Outbox’ protocols…hell, I have not found emails because one of the people involved was named Cynthia and some people were spelling her nickname as Cindy and some as Cyndi. Errors are totally common.

        But I think the reason they are going to “lied” is because there was “proof” offered by the employee that they sent the email. And once you have “proof” that is something you can check against the records of others.

      4. NotJane*

        Yes! I changed my email signature during our rebranding and for some reason, Microsoft was diverting my sent emails directly to the recipient’s junk folders. I had no idea this was happening until we noticed that clients weren’t paying their invoices. The crazy thing was that everyone in the office changed their signatures (using the exact same template) but mine was the only one getting flagged by Microsoft.

    4. Green great dragon*

      LW said cc not bcc so anyone receiving the email the first time can see whether payroll was copied.

      1. Hannah Lee*

        And IT can see all of the cc’s, so it should be easy enough to loop them in and know for sure.

        (eg the originating employee’s mailbox sent items on the server would have an instance of the original message will all the original recipients)

    5. Hlao-roo*

      The letter writer commented on the original post:

      Thanks everyone who posted replies on this. I am the OP-I supervise the person who supposedly faked an email. We have looked at her Sent box, the payroll email address wasn’t on the original forwarded email. A couple thoughts on why it might have happened if indeed it did. There is definitely a culture problem in my office; it really is a tiny mistake for such a drastic action, so you’d think this person would have just said oh, sorry, forgot to send on the email, I’ll do it now. Maybe they thought they couldn’t. The other thing is pride- this person has a hard time taking criticism or questioning and can be a bit snarky when replying-I wonder was it a case of not being able to admit to being wrong and it was taken too far. Anyway, I’ll take all of your suggestions to the MD re: finding out more info before saying something. Thanks again

      1. higheredadmin*

        Thanks for posting this Hlao-roo! When I read the letter my mind immediately went to the work environment, as what is going on where someone feels the need to hide something that seems so trivial. Is there a culture of really landing on people for small errors, so they are afraid of admitting to anything at all?

        1. Gray Lady*

          This is what I thought, too. On the one hand, Alison’s not wrong — this is a serious offense and treating it with all the seriousness she suggests would not be out of line.

          On the other hand, the question immediately rose in my mind as to whether the culture of the office made this employee so terrified at admitting a minor mistake that she lost all sense of proportion between admitting a mistake and faking something electronically.

          If that culture problem is there and is evident, I’d say the LW would not be wrong to explain the seriousness of the actual offense while cutting the employee some slack, making it clear that there will NOT be a next time, especially if the employee has otherwise been reliable. But even so, not necessarily required to offer the slack, either.

          1. AndersonDarling*

            I’ve worked at places where backstabbing and cover-ups were the culture. If someone made a mistake, the first step was to find someone else to pin it on. It was natural, because the oversized outrage from the VP was horrific.
            I’m hoping the OP could recognize if that’s the culture, some people are in to deep to see it.

        2. Heffalump*

          Or the fear of being landed on for small errors could have roots in the employee’s early family experiences.

          1. Happy meal with extra happy*

            That doesn’t change the advice though. If that’s the case, the employee should look into therapy or other avenues, but OP would still be justified in firing them.

              1. Happy meal with extra happy*

                But then what does armchair diagnosing past traumas add to the conversation? There could be plenty of reasons for them to have lied, and I think it’s unhelpful to speculate because it ultimately is very unlikely to matter.

          2. Murphy*

            Or the fear of being landed on for small errors could have roots in the employee’s early family experiences.

            True. And also experiences in other workplaces and with other managers.

            Unless the investigation of this incident leads to the uncovering of a much bigger problem with the employee’s integrity, like embezzling company or public funds, as a stand-alone incident that sounds pretty minor, I fail to see what positive outcome can be achieved by firing this person, or letting the manager develop a complex around the employee’s integrity that all too often leads to the employee being set up for failure.

            It’s a teachable moment, and a moment for growth, and if the reasoning behind it stems from past trauma, it can be a moment for healing for the employee: I made a mistake, and my manager didn’t scream at me, bully me, threaten to fire me, unfairly performance manage me, but supported me and helped me to learn from it.

            And that’s me speaking as a manager and as HR.

        3. Happy meal with extra happy*

          While the overall environment may be toxic, I think this comment section loves to try to find any explanation to show that an employee was in the right, no matter how egregious their behavior, and the manager/management is wrong. And even if the atmosphere is that bad, either OP contributes to it, in which case there are bigger problems that Alison’s answer would never address due to the amount of speculation needed, or OP doesn’t, and they still have cause to fire the employee.

          1. argie*

            I think this comment section loves to try to find any explanation to show that an employee was in the right, no matter how egregious their behavior, and the manager/management is wrong.

            I see an awful lot of the exact opposite, tbh.

            1. Jennifer Strange*

              Can you give an example? I’m asking sincerely, because my experience in reading the comments is similar to Happy meal’s.

        4. thats just me*

          I had a similar thought. This, to me, is not that big of a deal. I rarely disagree with Alison, and when I do it’s always because she’s taking a more conservative (for lack of a better word) approach than I would. In this case I probably just see a bit of myself in the employee who lied, because that was my own instinct for a long time. It could be related to the work environment not making it safe to admit mistakes (frankly, the fact that OP looked into it this hard and wrote into AAM makes me wonder about the culture at their office), or it could be that the employee grew up in a household where mistakes were treated as misbehavior (that’s me). Or both. Or neither!

          In OP’s shoes, I’d be more likely to lead with curiosity, the way Alison often advises: “It looks like you and the IT department are telling conflicting stories. Is there a reason you’re fighting so hard to prove that you sent it?”

        5. 2.5cents*

          That was my first thought as well. If the employee did indeed insert payroll’s address into the email as OP suspects, OP needs to find out why the employee felt the need to lie.

          She’s likely learned that she should be afraid of admitting any errors, whether it’s with OP or a previous boss, and I disagree with Alison when she says this won’t be a one-off occurrence. If people know they don’t need to be afraid of admitting to errors or asking questions, most people won’t lie, because they won’t have to, and it’s easier to tell the truth.

        1. anon with personal connection to Anna Wintour**

          All the Inc ones are. That’s what the “revisiting letters from the archives” bit in the sentence before the Inc link is referring to.

      2. Artemesia*

        It is a big jump from ‘having a tough time taking criticism’. to faking emails. Faking documentation is and should be a firing offense and in a great employee otherwise, a last chance offense. There is no excuse for it, if it happened. Certainly ‘I don’t like criticism’ is not an excuse. What if it were a grant proposal, a court filing etc etc

        1. Hlao-roo*

          It’s the 3rd letter of “new manager wants to step down, coworker washes dishes without soap, and more” from November 13, 2019.

  3. Ella*

    Tô the employer whose employee is driving for Uber on their lunch hour: are they paid well? Because that doesn’t seem like something someone would do for fun

    1. Caramel & Cheddar*

      That was my first thought too. If I found out my employee was driving for Uber at lunch, my first question would be whether or not our salaries are high enough, not how can I prohibit him from doing this. Maybe he genuinely loves driving for Uber in and of itself, but trying to cram a side hustle into the lunch hour doesn’t scream “fun” to me.

      1. Not*

        Dan Price rocked his company and capitalism by changing base pay to $70k when he saw one of his employees applying to McDonald’s.
        “Why are you leaving us for that?”
        Um, I’m not.

      2. The day of Sue*

        The term was “discourage,” not “prohibit.” Also, would 5 hours per week of driving for Uber really be enough to make up the difference for a supposedly low-paying full-time job? Hardly; if anything, the side hustle likely would have to be more like 20-plus hours a week to make a dent.

        Meanwhile, this forum notably berates bosses who demand constant, 40+ hours’ availability from their employees, yet here we have a boss who wants to honestly encourage a daily hour rest-and-refresh break during work hours – a sign of responsible management – and it’s regarded as nothing more than cover for an imagined swirling undercurrent of depressed wages.

        The absurdity is almost funny, honestly.

        1. Sparkly Tuxedo*

          I imagine he’s also driving for Uber after work and on the weekends. He’s just trying to cram in an extra five hours of rides.

        2. BubbleTea*

          When you’re struggling financially, five hours a week of side work (especially at meal times when people are likely to be travelling or ordering stuff) can make a major difference! My entire fun budget for the month is £20; that’s not an unrealistic minimum amount to net each week from driving jobs.

        3. AMH*

          What? There are people who can earn $20-25 an hour door dashing in a major city. That significantly adds up, especially if underpaid. Also, my boss has zero say in how I spend my time off work, absent anything damaging to my workplace. Asking an employee to curtail personal activities at lunch isn’t somehow promoting a better work/life balance, it’s work encroaching into life.

          1. The day of Sue*

            The LW is encouraging a break, which isn’t the same as “curtail[ing] personal activities..”

            It’s pretty straightforward: Manager wants to see employee take and use a break wisely, and is looking for advice on how to do so. Employee might or might not follow that advice. Why employee doesn’t is a whole other conversation. Right now, the advice is for encouraging employee to use breaks as typically intended: to rest and refresh. My own manager does the same thing from time to time, and models the behavior all the time, and our team – about 60 people – is noticeably relaxed and easygoing. Breaks aren’t necessarily the sole cause of those dynamics, but it’s fair to say they at least contribute.

            LW: it’s a great question. I’d be curious for an update if you would ever want to share.

            1. Goldie*

              Would an employee be discouraged from studying, working out, making dr appts or other unrelaxing things on breaks? It’s really none of their business.
              Earning grocery money will driving Uber might be the best way for them to spend time

        4. Boss Scaggs*

          Their intentions might be wonderful, but if there’s any criticism it’s because it’s simply not her business how an employee uses their break time.

        5. She of Many Hats*

          We’re assuming the 5 lunch hours are all the employee drives. I’m guessing the employee is driving for Uber/DoorDash evenings & weekends, too, to cover either a pitiful salary or to cover outside expenses (medical, new mortgage, credit card debt, etc)

          Or they could be an extreme extrovert in a WFH job and this is how they get the social interaction they need to stay sane.

        6. Jennifer Strange*

          The issue here is that the boss is trying to discourage it to the detriment of the employee’s income. Whether or not five hours per week would make a huge difference, the employee obviously sees it as worthwhile for them and it’s not causing any issue for the employer.

        7. watermelon fruitcake*

          Your response has a tinge of hostility to it that is rubbing me wrong.

          It’s quite unlikely that this person is only driving for Uber during their lunch break, and in fact nothing in the original questions says anything to that effect. It’s only mentioned that their lunch break is one window that they happen to be driving for Uber.

          It’s not beyond the realm of imagination that the Uber driver is in fact underpaid for the cost of living in the region they’re in – it certainly wouldn’t be the first time there was a material disconnect between management and fair wages – or perhaps they simply have goals beyond what their fair-but-nonetheless-inadequate full-time salary allows. Maybe they are saving money to travel or trying to sock away for a down payment on a home or responsible for supporting family members.

          The fact the employer thinks they have the right to dictate how a person spends their allegedly free, unpaid lunch actually does not speak to “responsible management” at all, especially since they made no mention about this venture interfering with the employee’s full-time responsibilities. They may well be concerned about the optics or relationship-building opportunities of a client getting into an Uber driven by one of their employees.

        8. Jezebella*

          I mean, who really gets “rest and relaxation” on their lunch hour when they work 8-5 and lunch is the only time they have during business hours to run errands and make personal calls?

          Asking for a friend, as you do.

        9. Double A*

          Unpaid lunches are a scam that have somehow (i.e. by the erosion of unions and worker power) become normalized. It was 9-5, not 8-5 with an unpaid lunch.

          If this employer values their employees’ rest and rejuvenation so much, they can have a real 8 hour day that INCLUDES a paid lunch.

          1. Your Mate in Oz*

            I think paid lunches are fairly rare round the world. Australia and Aotearoa don’t pay lunch breaks, but OTOH legislate a 37.5 or 38 hour work week. Sure, lots of jobs that number is just where overtime kicks in (trades in Australia are pushing to drop from 35 to 32 for that reason, they will still work 50+ hours a week). But for us salaried types five days at 7.5 hours is where the line is drawn (it’s fuzzy, but it’s definitely there).

            Interestingly in my current job we timesheet 40 hours a week including the paid lunch, despite our contracts being very clear that it’s 7.5 hours and unpaid (salaried staff have to bill time to projects, so it’s not “worked 0815 to 16:15”, it’s “5 hours Developing Widget X, 3 hours meeting with supplier Q”.

            1. londonedit*

              Yeah, in the UK lunch breaks are unpaid, but our working weeks are normally 35 or 37.5 hours full-time, so it is genuinely 9-5.

        10. El*

          Being against employers demanding 40+ availability and being against an employer telling an employee how (not) to spend their unpaid lunch hour both come from the same place of being opposed to employers encroaching on employees’ free time. Fair enough if you disagree, but there’s no contradiction here.

        11. Also-ADHD*

          Pay him what he’s making driving for Uber to rest? Otherwise, it might be more restful to make the extra pocket money—plus I’ve never found an in office lunch restful anyway, used to work through them to get home faster. I think the notion anyone CAN “rest” on a lunch break is flawed because many people are in work mode until they can go home. I don’t see anything noble about the boss trying to police the lunch hour that’s unpaid (unpaid lunch hours that keep you away from home/real recreation longer by making the day an hour longer already suck, though they’re commonplace).

          1. Carl*

            That was my thought too. Want to discourage it? Ask him how much he earns at lunch, and pay him that amount to “relax.” But, seriously, employer’s idea of “relaxing” may be his hell. I have ADHD and I really can’t sit still, when I’m not focused on something that interests me (which, thankfully, includes my job). My employer hosts a monthly lunch, and I like my coworkers – but it’s torture to sit still. I spent the whole time bouncing in my chair and eyeing the exit. I’d be so much more “relaxed” in my office doing what I want to do!

        12. 2e*

          A quick Google search shows me that Uber drivers make $15+/hr on average. It’s reasonable to assume that this employee is pulling in an extra $75/week, and over $300/month.

          An extra $300/month would make a big difference for me. If you’ve never been in that position, I think you’re very fortunate.

    2. HonorBox*

      This is a great question.

      And maybe they ARE doing it for fun… or they’re paid well enough, but the money they make driving gives them the money they can freely invest in a hobby.

      I found it really odd that the LW suggested that lunches are for rest and recreation. It is truly none of the business’s concern how someone uses their lunch hours. I had to run to Lowe’s and Walmart yesterday over my lunch hour to make returns. That was indeed not restful or relaxing, but it saved me from having to do it when the stores are fuller later in the day or over the weekend.

      1. ferrina*

        The “rest and recreation” line made me laugh. That’s not how it works at all.
        Especially when there’s nowhere to relax at the company. Almost every time I’ve worked somewhere that required that I take a full hour for lunch, I’ve ended up sitting in my car or awkwardly at my desk for 45 minutes. I’m done eating in 15 minutes, and I’m generally not paid well enough to go out to eat (once I started getting paid well enough to go out to lunch, I was salaried and no longer required to take a lunch hour).

        1. CommanderBanana*

          Yep. At one of my last places, the options to eat were:
          1. At my desk
          2. At a picnic table outside covered in spiderwebs (cool!) where you’d get eaten alive by insects because our office was in a house in a heavily wooded neighborhood (not cool)
          3. literally nowhere else.

          1. Sir Nose d'Voidoffunk*

            What was wrong with these spiders that they weren’t taking care of the bugs? Nobody wants to work these days – not even arachnids.

            1. myfanwy*

              I went down a rabbit hole of investigating my household fauna with a pocket microscope once. When I looked at what the various spiders were eating, half the time it turned out they were eating each other. They did not understand the assignment at ALL.

        2. The day of Sue*

          That’s not how the situation worked *for you.* Please don’t assume that your experience is everyone else’s.

          1. ferrina*

            Ah, did you have a nice spot to rest and relax for your mandated lunch hour? Please share!

            I’m not saying that universally lunch hours are uncomfortable, but that’s how it’s always been at places I’ve worked. I’m also saying that ‘rest and recreation’ aren’t the mandated requirement for lunch hours. If it were, LW wouldn’t need to write to Alison.

            1. Your Mate in Oz*

              I once worked in a factory built in an orchard 10 minutes drive from town. So for lunch we could wander outside and use the “company pool and tennis court” (it’s tax deductable if the employees get to use it!), or sit in the orchard, or play with the various dogs employees brought to work. Or sit inside in the “cafeteria” (pool house). In a totally unreasonable overstep (/s) we were not permitted to eat at our desks.

              That part of the job was awesome. The company getting bought by a giant multinational and staff rearranged (factory shut down, R&D moved to the US etc) was less fun. But it was great while it lasted.

        3. Sparkles McFadden*

          I had a post-retirement job for a short while. I came back (early) from my (unpaid) lunchbreak with a bandage on my arm. My manager asked what the bandage was for. When I replied that it was from a blood test from a doctor’s visit, she informed me that I was not allowed to take a lunch break for anything other than lunch. She then required me to stay in the office for lunch from that point on. There was nowhere on site to sit and do this, so she told me to roll my desk chair into the hallway outside of her office and have lunch there. Yeah, I quit.

          1. Carl*

            What?!? That’s crazy. Yeah, I would have quit. But I also wonder whether that would have required them to pay you for that time? If they mandate what you do during that time…isn’t that THEIR time and they need to pay you for it?

        4. KateM*

          Doing something totally different from your day job may very well count as “rest and recreation”. Why would walking around count as rest but driving around not?

        5. Baunilha*

          Also, as someone who’s constantly broke, nothing brings me more rest and relaxation than extra income. Even if the employee is well paid, he could be saving the Uber money for a vacation, hobby or something else that is far more interesting than resting during mandatory lunch hour.

          Plus, sometimes just doing something else for a while is enough to take my mind off my regular job and I come back refreshed.

      2. SansSerif*

        Yeah, that line really got me. Not only is it butting into something that’s none of their business (Unpaid time? They can do whatever they want if it doesn’t interfere with their worktime) I also will bet my life savings that they have no problem with employees who work through lunch. That’s not exactly restful, either.

        1. The day of Sue*

          I agree. But these conversations are speculating about LW’s intentions in ways that aren’t actionable.

          Isn’t that what we’re supposed to be doing? Giving useful advice that is actionable, like “Say, LW, are there spaces you can create for a restful break? Is there an unused room and a budget for creating a break room?” And so on.

          Instead, it’s unhelpful “Yeah, that line about laugh at that.” That’s directed right at the LW, as is all the anger about low wages. Unreal.

          1. Rondeaux*

            I’m not sure every single comment needs to contain actionable advice, otherwise it would get pretty boring imo or repetitive.

            But I do agree that when the LW is in the wrong, the comment section is often less charitable and so that comes across in the speculation too.

    3. Ghostlight*

      I came here to say exactly this. I’m actually surprised (and a little disappointed) that Alison didn’t mention that. If your employee has to drive for an app on lunch, as long as he’s not missing any work, that’s his prerogative, but it’s probably because you don’t pay enough and he’s probably not doing it just on lunch break….

      1. nancy*

        I know 2 people who drive for uber/lyft who have well paying jobs. they do it because they like the extra cash. (one of them is saving up for a major vacation.)

        1. Venus*

          I know someone who does it for fun (big extrovert) but they tend to do it when they are going in a direction anyway, for example if they are headed home after work they can find someone going the same way.

        2. HSE Compliance*

          I know of a person who makes a high level engineering salary and was taking “build this furniture for me” type work during their lunch breaks.

          Personally, though, I think that is an outlier and the question should be considered of why the employee would make that decision.

    4. Beth*

      Agreed that it’s probably not for fun. There are a lot of reasons someone might need extra cash–even well paid people sometimes find themselves with a big emergency expense, or choose to stretch themselves with a side gig to make a financial goal a reality–but squeezing a side gig into your lunch hour almost definitely isn’t for fun. But it’s also not your boss’s business what you do in your off time. OP, other than maybe checking to make sure your employees’ salaries are both market rate for your field and a living wage for your area, this isn’t really yours to address.

    5. Moons Over My Hammy Fan*

      It’s a reasonable question to ask! But I wouldn’t assume it’s a pay issue, many people do side hustles just to save up for purchasing power. I know a lot of folks who are paid well for their jobs but they need extra money if they want to pay off student debt or buy a house sooner than their current earnings will allow them.

      But I’ve also never heard lunch was for “rest and recreation” though. It’s for lunch…it’s also an hour. An hour is too much time! I’d be bored stiff with an hour. So I’d run doordash just to fill the annoying unpaid time wasted in my day if I were in a position that required it.

    6. Zombeyonce*

      Exactly this. If you want someone to stop working another job when they’re not on the clock, pay them more. That’s the solution.

      1. Observer*

        Exactly this. If you want someone to stop working another job when they’re not on the clock, pay them more. That’s the solution.

        That’s making a lot of assumptions that are not in the letter.

    7. Velawciraptor*

      Exactly. If you want to discourage this, pay your employees well enough that they don’t need a side hustle on their lunch hour.

        1. Kay*

          If they don’t have the power to say “I’ll pay you for the hour if you rest and relax”, they don’t have the power to comment on how an employee spends their unpaid lunch hour.

    8. Kel*

      This was my first question. Why is your employee feeling the need to drive for Uber during their lunch?

    9. Reality.Bites*

      I once had an Uber driver who did it for fun! I noticed that his car was higher-end than usual and during the ride we were talking and he said he worked all day as a commodities trader or something similar (it was a few years ago), and he drove Uber at night to relax – with his car he didn’t even really make any money at it.

  4. HonorBox*

    Regarding the third letter – Forgive me for having my cynic hat on, but if my coworkers or friends threw a party where I was the guest of honor, but did so in a way that was inconvenient to me, that’d feel like a party that wasn’t for me.
    I think it is kind, even though unnecessary, to have a wedding shower for a coworker. I hope LW took Alison’s advice and asked about doing it over lunch or happy hour. I think not only the convenience of travel, but the fact that I’m sure Saturdays were pretty jammed up already with wedding planning.

    1. ferrina*

      Yeah. Especially since it sounds like they didn’t consult LW when planning the party to see where/when would be convenient for her. They aren’t thinking of her as a person.

        1. Dinwar*

          My guess is more that it’s an excuse for a party, and that while an excuse is felt to be necessary, they’re not overly concerned with what the excuse is. There’s a MASH episode where they do that. Understandable in a war zone, but not really in an area not currently being targeted by artillery.

          Or maybe it’s that they felt it necessary to throw a shower, but more along the lines of “This is what our culture does”, not “This is what the person in question wants”. I saw that happen once with a baby shower–someone decided that a woman having a baby meant they had to have a shower, and the future mother’s absence was considered irrelevant to the proceedings. It…went as well as you’re probably thinking it did.

          1. Baldrick*

            When overseas I planned a birthday party (nothing big, a bit of cake with the group) for a coworker on a day that ended up not being his birthday. After he quietly mentioned to me that I got it wrong and I felt so guilty! He laughed and said it didn’t matter, that it was a useful distraction and the cake was delicious (it was hard to find the cake where we were). As you say, it was an excuse.

            I agree that in this case it sounds like the coworkers are only looking for an excuse to get together, and don’t care about LW specifically.

          2. Busy Middle Manager*

            Curious why the expected mother didn’t show up, and if this was a work or social or family event

            1. Dinwar*

              The mother didn’t show up because they had work obligations–which she informed the planner of–that meant she couldn’t just drop everything and travel for two days when it was convenient for the planner to have the party. The fact that the expectant mother was not informed of said party until a week beforehand, when everything was already planned (so the mother couldn’t have a say, and it was too late to ask for time off even if she wanted to), was also a factor. I’d say “It was a family thing”, but the people invited were all the planner’s friends, with no room left for any of the mother’s friends.

              It was a total dumpster fire, and it was crystal clear that the whole thing was set up so the planner could feel special, with the mother being completely ignored. The themes, the location, the timing, it all was about what the planner wanted.

        2. ferrina*

          Exactly. She is no longer Clara, a human who enjoys hobbies and her lifestyle. She is now Bride, and as such, Bride would like a Wedding Shower because all Brides like Wedding Shower and that is how it is. They don’t remember that Clara is still a person with hobbies and her own life. She’s now a figurehead for them.
          Same thing for expectant mother- lots of people have an image of what Expectant Mother is supposed to be/think/feel, and they forget that it’s still Beth and Beth has her own thoughts/feeling/preferences. I’m sure there’s male equivalents, but the Bride and Expectant Mother/Mother archetypes are the ones that I have personally experienced and been locked into by certain people.

          Obviously not universal and lots of people don’t do this, but there are way more people who do this than there ought to be.

    2. Ama*

      Yeah this reminded me a lot of when I was moving out of state (not leaving the employer, just moving), and one of my coworkers “offered” to have a goodbye dinner for me. It went from “you pick the place and the date and we’ll show up” to:
      1. Oh wait other coworker on our team has a foot injury, you need to pick someplace within a block of a parking lot (nearly impossible in our particular city).
      2. Actually let’s just have it near other coworkers’ house (on the entire other side of the city from my own), and we’ll do it the day you are cleaning out your desk.
      3. (When I pointed out that I didn’t want to have to lug my box of stuff all around the city for hours after work) — I’ll come in that day too, we’ll leave your stuff at the office and then go back and pick it up afterwards. (At that point it *really* started to feel like this was just her big plan to get a nice evening out that work would pay for.)

      I finally just told her — I appreciate the thought but planning this is adding a lot of stress I really don’t need right now, we’re going to see each other in less than two months for a scheduled work event, we can have dinner then.

      (Adding to this coworker with the foot injury wasn’t consulted on ANY of this and told me later she was relieved when I nixed everything because she had a hard time sitting anywhere where she couldn’t prop her foot up.)

    3. ExAdmin*

      Agreed. I did have coworkers throw me a bridal show but the difference is that they consulted me beforehand, and asked if there were any friends I wanted to invite. I don’t have many friends/family nearby so I was actually very happy to just have this shower with my work peeps, but I understand why LW wouldn’t want that and especially that they don’t seems to really be considering her (the Bride!).

  5. FashionablyEvil*

    The correct answer to #2 is: Pay your employees a wage that doesn’t require them to drive for Uber on their lunch hour. Good gravy.

    1. Michelle Smith*

      Came here to say this. Highly unlikely LW2 has control over this, but it’s definitely likely this employee needs to be paid more if he’s going to stop working a second gig on his breaks.

    2. TeenieBopper*

      I’m kind of shocked at the number of letters that come in where the appropriate response is “Mind ya business” or “Don’t be a dick to your employees.”

    3. Pastor Petty Labelle*

      We don’t know why the person is driving for Uber. They may be paid appropriately for their field, but have extra expenses. Or making extra money to pay down debt and lunch hour is the most convenient way to do it so they still have family time.

      We don’t have to jump right to Oh my God you terrible horrible company underpaying your employees stop it right now.

      1. Honestly*

        Yes. Anybody could want or need a side hustle for any number of reasons. Is it always a failure on the part of the employer if someone wants more than they’re making?

        If the man gets paid on time at the agreed wage, what he does on his lunch hour is not his employer’s affair.

        1. SansSerif*

          Heck, his spouse could have lost their job and he’s trying to make some extra cash. There are a million reasons he could have. None of them are the company’s business.

      2. Hannah Lee*

        It probably makes sense for the employer to reflect on that, do a sanity check of how they are paying employees. But it doesn’t necessarily mean the employee is being under paid.

        Because sometimes people do things for their own reasons, even if no one else is doing them wrong. In this case, wanting a side gig to fund xyz activity or payoff, or maybe their partner sees their main wages which are deposited into a shared account, but their Uber, Door Dash earnings go into a different account they are using to save for a surprise for their partner (so doing it on their lunch hour keeps it completely hidden from partner)

        Or, possibly the employee isn’t actually doing a side hustle during lunch at all, but just told their co-workers that because they didn’t want to say what they are really doing, or wanted an ‘external’ reason why they aren’t staying and eating lunch with the rest of their department.

      3. Beth*

        I don’t think telling OP to consider whether the employee is making a living wage is a hugely accusatory or out of line response here! We all know that using your lunch hour on gig labor every day isn’t a for-fun hobby-type activity–it’s probably because of a financial need. If OP wants to minimize the odds of their employees doing this kind of thing, checking to make sure their wages are a living wage for their area is their best option. There will always be some people who get paid generously and still need to make extra cash–but making sure all their employees are getting paid well is what OP can control here.

        1. MassMatt*

          But pay should be based on skills, responsibilities, and value added to the job, not financial need. The alternative brings in entirely subjective metrics, which is how we get men paid more because “he has a family to support” and women paid less because they are just working temporarily until they find husbands.

          We have no idea whether this employer pays well or pays poorly compared to their peers. It could be that the employee needs money for rent and medical bills, or maybe they have gambling debts to pay off. IMO none of that is relevant.

          Lots of jobs don’t, and never will, pay “well”, such as in the service economy, and entry level virtually everywhere, and it’s naive to think that will change.

          1. myfanwy*

            It’s not about paying different people in the same role different amounts based on need. It’s about making sure that a worker stands half a chance of living on their wage. No one should be paid less than that.

      4. Dorothy Zpornak*

        But it’s not just the question of whether they’re underpaying, it’s the oblivious privilege of saying, “I think you should use your lunch hour for rest and relaxation,” when the employee’s actions are screaming, “I need money.” Maybe the second job isn’t taken out of dire necessity, but that’s the most likely explanation, and the inability to understand or sympathize with that from someone who is certainly making a higher salary than the employee in question is just really ick.

        1. MigraineMonth*

          Yeah, there have been letters from managers/employers who literally couldn’t raise their employees’ wages (budgets being slashed, low rates of Medicaid reimbursement, really cutthroat competition) asking what they can do to make their employee’s lives better and improve recruitment/retention.

          This LW is complaining that an employee is using a *unpaid* lunch hour to make money they might need. If it’s having a business impact (employee returning late, tired/distracted all afternoon, etc), they could address that; without a specific reason, this sounds like LW just doesn’t like the optics of their employee struggling to make ends meet.

    4. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

      Came here to say exactly this. If the employee is driving for one of those tech companies on his lunch break, it’s probably not because he wants to.

  6. Coin_Operated*

    I realize this may fall off-topic, but still related to the first response. Why is it, that we, the bottom workers have to hold ourselves to these “judgment” standards of not lying, while those in power, large corporations, politicians, etc… essentially lie to us, constantly, with zero consequences? Honestly, if I were managing someone who is lying on their resume to get a better-paying job because they’re struggling and trying to earn a living, I have more respect for that than a top Marketing exec who “fudged” the truth on a mass marketing campaign. Yet one, we say used bad judgment that could potentially get them fired, while the other, suffers no consequences. It doesn’t sit right with me that we keep holding workers with the last amount of power in our society to these ethical standards.

    1. LCH*

      pretty off topic. the letter in question feels like an instance where the employee could have said, whoops, slipped through the cracks, let me send it now. instead of lying.

      also, not sending an email about a coworker to payroll sounds like a possibility of screwing over that other coworker. which isn’t the same at all as fudging experience to get a better job.

    2. Pastor Petty Labelle*

      Because lying is wrong no matter who does it. But OP can’t fire the marketing exec?

      The rest of us can fire the marketing exec by not hiring them or not believing anything they say again. But there’s macro and micro consequences. OP only has so much power.

      Not every question has to address every structural issue with capitalism. Some times you gotta deal with the immediate problem.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*


        I am currently dealing with a coworker who routinely lies, even about things that don’t matter! It’s exhausting, and I don’t trust her at all. Oh, and, yes, she does lie about her job experience and even her current role.

      2. Coin_Operated*

        Is it wrong for gay people to lie and say their straight when it’s not safe to be out?

        Not every question needs to address structural issues, but we should always be analyzing how our individual responses reinforce broader structural issues.

          1. Coin_Operated*

            “Because lying is wrong no matter who does it.” it’s not an offensive comparison when responding to such a black-and-white statement. My entire point is that lying has purpose and intention, so to say you can’t trust someone because they lied to you, is not always accurate.

            The common thread on this blog and this topic is, that if an employee lies to their manager, that automatically equals ‘can’t trust them/discipline/potentially fire them because the one lying doesn’t have power, despite our entire system where those with power can lie without facing consequences.

            1. Dr. Rebecca*

              I think the difference is that people should be free to lie about themselves,* but employees need to not ever lie about their jobs/job performance/qualifications. It’s not that lie=untrustworthy at all ever, it’s that while doing their job, they need to be forthright about everything doing the job entails.

              *Within reason/except in cases where there are side effects/consequences.

            2. Roland*

              Most people understand that “lying about your literal work tasks that are relevant to others at your company” is different from “lying about your personal life in a way that protects you from discrimination”.

        1. since we're just asking irrelevant questions*

          Is it wrong for people to lie and say their dad works at Nintendo if it makes everyone think they’re really cool?

        2. Tio*

          This is getting really far off topic and into strawmen.

          The employee lied about something to hide a mistake. That’s a bad behavior. What is the correct response? Let her continue her bad behavior because higher ups do? I’m not sure how responding differently to this situation would make any positive to the structural issue other than to make it seem MORE like “Everyone lies, so why should we punish [marketing exec]?”

          I understand the inherent frustration in the original comment but I don’t think changing the response about this instance is going to have any effect on that structural issue, and it just sounds like a deflect.

        3. Cj*

          no, it’s not wrong for them to lie if it’s not safe for them to be out.

          however, if they lie about it or not has absolutely no bearing on their work product, and it won’t affect a coworker like not copying HR on email might have.

          I’m also not clear if you think it’s okay for them to lie or not. saying we should always analyze how our individual responses reinforce broader structural issues makes me think that you think they shouldn’t lie about being gay, because it reinforces people thinking that it’s not okay to be gay.

          I may be misunderstanding what you meant, but if I were gay or trans, I would sure as heck lie about it if being open the about it meant I wasn’t safe. enough I thought it wasn’t safe because of where I lived, I would move to where it was acceptable, or at least more acceptable, as soon as I possibly could.

          1. Coin_Operated*

            My comparison was in response to this comment:
            “Because lying is wrong no matter who does it.”

            I think my comment below better explains my position on all this:
            “No, I’m just saying I have far more understanding for workers with little power who lie or make bad judgments out of self-preservation, than those with power and money who can lie without consequences, and I think our ethics need to take that into account for equitable reasons.”

            not to pull the “identity” card but I am gay and non-binary and was raised in a fundie Christian cult, so I’m intimately familiar with having to lie and stay in the closet for safety as a queer person.

    3. Cthulhu's Librarian*

      So, a marketing campaign is a terrible example for your point, since marketing as a general field has a tenuous relationship with honesty and reality.

      That having been said, no one should be lying at work. Yes, individuals in a position of power are often able to do so and escape consequences, but Alison and the commentators have a pretty standard response of saying “that’s because they suck, and you should find a new job.”

      The fact that executives lie and individual workers can’t punish them except by leaving is not a good reason to say we should stop insisting on honesty.

    4. Annony*

      So is your argument that entry level employees should be able to lie about anything they want with no consequences? Realistically, how do you think a company could possibly function if that were the policy?

      1. Coin_Operated*

        No, I’m just saying I have far more understanding for workers with little power who lie or make bad judgments out of self-preservation, than those with power and money who can lie without consequences, and I think our ethics need to take that into account for equitable reasons.

        1. since we're just asking irrelevant questions*

          well okay, we’ll let this person off the hook for super jail since you talked us into it, but this is a one-time exception

    5. ferrina*

      There’s the double-standard and there’s the necessary spin. They are both very real.
      The double standard needs to end- it’s the classic “I can get away with it because Money.” The demonstrable lies are ridiculous, and folks should be held accountable for acting with integrity.

      The necessary spin isn’t going anywhere. This is the gray areas of aspirational statements that don’t get fulfilled, positioning a statement to highlight what you want, not having full information so going for generalizations or assumptions, and needing to hold certain information confidential. High-level folks can’t always be totally transparent, but they shouldn’t be telling known lies. The thing that gets me is the people that say “oh, they lied to everyone else, but they won’t lie to me.” um, sure.

    6. Beth*

      An entry-level worker who feels like their boss is dishonest with them about the things that matter for their working relationship will eventually quit and get a new job. A boss who feels like their employee is dishonest with them about the things that matter for their working relationship will eventually fire the employee and hire someone else. There are consequences both ways for someone feeling lied to.

      I hear your frustration about larger power structures, but the relationship between marketing materials and audience, politicians and constituents, large corporations and the entire populations living around them, etc. are different than work relationships between boss and employee. You can’t quit being the audience for a marketing campaign. You can quit being your boss’s employee.

    7. Observer*

      Why is it, that we, the bottom workers have to hold ourselves to these “judgment” standards of not lying,

      This is not about “judgement”. It’s about flat out and knowingly lying.

      We can, and sometimes even *do* hold people in higher positions to account, as well. The bottom line is that if someone lies to you, you need to not trust them. And if they work for you and their job requires you to trust them, then you need to fire them.

      If it turns out that top executives at a company you are thinking of doing business are lying, don’t do business with them. Don’t buy from companies that lie to you. Etc.

      1. Coin_Operated*

        “We can, and sometimes even *do* hold people in higher positions to account, as well. The bottom line is that if someone lies to you, you need to not trust them. ” Well, that’s every single human being on this planet. Everyone lies, even without knowing it. There’s a lot of research on this.

        1. Happy meal with extra happy*

          I hope you’re intentionally missing the point. This isn’t a “everyone lies” scenario. This is someone explicitly, intentionally lying about their work. If you ran a business, would you want someone willing to blatantly lie work for you?

        2. aqua*

          personally I refer to “lying without knowing it” as “being incorrect”, this is distinct from “lying and knowing about it” which I like to refer to as “lying”

          1. Bunny Lake Is Found*

            I think we have 2 other categories too: “lying and believing you are telling the truth, despite the fact that it makes no sense” and “lying but believing the lie SHOULD be the truth, and since that is the REAL truth, the “truth” is actually a lie”

            Politics is rife with these, but they creep up in all areas of life. Those are the types of lies that are hard to distill and the most insidious because they involve serious self-deception that is realistically impossible to change.

        3. Tio*

          So what are you advocating for here, other than trying to be difficult?

          Do you want her to be allowed to lie because it happens anyway?

          If you just want the higher ups held accountable, why does that preclude holding her accountable?

          1. Coin_Operated*

            I want managers to understand that most workers will lie out of self-preservation, and since their employees don’t have the power in this situation, to also weigh what if someone higher up in the ORg had done the same thing, would they be questioned or face consequences for it? If not, then it’s a question of equity to hold them to that.

            1. Tio*

              There are many versions of lying for self preservation. I understand people don’t want to lose their job. But you still can’t just say “Because some people don’t have to face consequences, no one does.” The proper response is to do the best you can that everyone faces consequences. But having someone who lies to you on staff is just not tenable.

              1. Coin_Operated*

                unless they have enough power in the ORG to be shielded from it. That’s the KEY point you’re missing from all this.

                1. New Jack Karyn*

                  No one is missing that point. Literally no one here is blind to the constructs of capitalism and power. You are not the only truth-teller in a site full of fools.

                  The problem is that this truth is not actionable for OP. OP can’t hold a VP accountable for any lies they tell.

    8. Lisa*

      The problem isn’t that bottom workers are held to a high standard. The problem is that those in power aren’t held to a high enough standard.

      1. MigraineMonth*

        Agreed! Every time a CEO is fired for cause and gets a golden parachute, I want to go out and buy a pitchfork. Surely there can be a clause in the severance agreement that the executive doesn’t get a payout in cases of, you know, *illegal activity that damages the company’s reputation and costs billions in fines*.

    9. Murphy*

      Coin_Operated, I think you have hit the nail on the head in a way that will make some people uncomfortable, or even angry. Because you are right.

      I left HR for a long time because I was just so over the type of hypocrisy you describe. If a manager lies about an employee to get them fired, or put on probation or a PIP, and it can be proven in writing, that was apparently forgivable, even if the poor employee’s health suffers, or they lose livelihood over it…but if the employee being bullied by their manager panics and does something like this in a clear reaction to how they’re being treated, and it’s clearly a one-off, they deserve to be punished and fired? Ugh.

      I’m NOT saying this is what’s happened in OP’s situation. But I find it extremely tiring that companies continue to protect managers and senior executives who exhibit bad behaviour and dishonesty, and abuse their power, even when it actively and unfairly harms and disadvantages people with less power, while being totally happy to treat the people who do most of the actual work like canon fodder for powerful people’s egos.

      1. Orv*

        Yeah, another example is how recruiters can lie or withhold information about things like pay, but applicants don’t dare stretch the truth on their resumes.

        1. Murphy*

          Exactly! And not just about pay, but also about everything relating to the job itself, from title and seniority to responsibilities and duties and what the job really involves. Such as when someone hired to be a writer finds themselves doing the job of a marketer, or an IT specialist finds themselves shoved into an office admin role.

          1. Orv*

            I’ve been interviewed by recruiters for jobs that turned out to not exist at all; they were just trying to build their file of applicants, and wasting my time in the process.

    10. N C Kiddle*

      There’s two norms operating here. One is “lying is bad and we should discourage it”. The other is “it’s easier to hold the people on the bottom rung accountable”. The first one is probably a fairly decent norm, because lying makes it harder for everyone else to make good decisions. The second is the problem, but you fix that by addressing the power imbalances, not by saying “oh well the higher ups get away with it.”

    11. Hokey Puck*

      Nothing you said excuses lying. Just because some people do it, doesn’t make it right. You need to be able to trust your employees. How could you work with people you knew may not be telling the truth. I like to give my emoployees the power and go and have some oversight but not micromanage. I absolutely value integrity and communication. This response is troubling to me.

  7. cindylouwho*

    I’m eloping next month and no one at my work will know about it until after the fact, which is a wonderful plus to elopement. Can’t imagine being thrown a bridal shower at work!

    1. Formerly*

      Yup, I sent a postcard to my office from my honeymoon (which they thought was just a normal holiday) announcing my change in marital status.

    2. Sharon*

      I would have loved to have a bridal shower at work. I’m always happy to be the center of attention.

    3. allathian*


      We didn’t elope, but ours was just a tiny family wedding at the town hall/registry office. My husband wore a suit and I wore a dressy maternity tunic and maternity pants and flat dress shoes, as I was eight months pregnant at the time. My sister and SIL were our witnesses, the other guests included my parents and my MIL and her husband (then-fiance). My FIL and his wife were also invited, but my FIL only came to the reception at our house and his wife didn’t come at all (no loss as we only invited her out of obligation, my husband and I have been together for 18+ years, in all that time I’ve met her a handful of times). All very informal and simple, just as we like it. No written invitations, no party venue, no thank you notes. Just texting, and we did include our wedding photo in the photo book of our son’s first year.

      I had just started maternity leave when we got married, and I informed my boss of my changed marital status when I contacted her about returning to work.

    4. KarenK*

      My husband and I eloped. At first, we told no one except his mom and my dad. A year later, I told the rest of my family, and another year after that, I told my coworkers.

      They still threw me a shower, but it was during a regular staff meeting. I was very touched.

  8. CherryBlossom*

    For #2:

    1) Make sure you’re paying your employee fairly for their job, area, field, etc.

    2) If the above is true, and it’s not affecting their job performance or attendance, mind your business. There’s plenty of reasons why someone well-paid may want more money. Maybe they’re saving up for a vacation. Maybe they have an expensive medical condition and they need every penny they can get. It could be anything, and if it’s not impacting their work, leave it alone.

    What an employee does in their free time is their own business.

  9. Sunflower*

    #2 Either pay them more or leave them alone. It’s their own time. Workers already have to squeeze in doctors appointments, schoolwork, childcare, grocery shopping, etc. around their workdays. Don’t dictate how they should spend their unpaid lunch hour. Guess what? Many of us don’t sit back, eat, and relax during lunch (if we’re lucky to even get a full 60 minutes).

  10. atalanta0jess*

    Oh yes, #2, by all means, please require employees to perform relaxation appropriately for your on their lunch break.

    1. ferrina*

      Forced relaxation will somehow be even less successful than mandatory fun.
      “You WILL relax. Your job is at stake!”

    2. Dinwar*

      If this happened to me, I’d bring in my copy of “Archaeology of Human Remains” to read on my lunch break. It’s a study of taphonomy of human remains in an archaeological setting–or, to put it a different way, it’s a thousand ways to dispose of a body. Entirely appropriate for my line of work (in fact I bought it to support a project; it’s literally work equipment). But I have noticed that people tend to leave me alone when they see me reading it. Doesn’t hurt that the cover has a photo of a skeleton being exhumed on it!

      1. allathian*

        How cool!

        I wanted to be an archeologist when I was a kid, and I was particularly fascinated by forensic archeology. I grew out of that when I realized how much back-breaking drudgery archeology requires.

  11. Yup*

    LW#2: When are employers going to realize 1) your employees’ time is their own time and 2) the cost of living is so high and wages aren’t keeping up, so many people need to work 2 or more jobs. If you prefer they relax at lunch, consider offering them a raise.

  12. Betty*

    I’m curious if there’s a safety concern about the driving given the “lunch hour is for rest and relaxation” angle. For instance if you need your forklift drivers to not operate any vehicles for 60 minutes after 4 hours of operation as a safety policy (like how flight crews have mandated rest periods on long haul flights)– but then that needs to be what’s communicated (and would include other driving like “you can’t drive across town to run an errand during your lunch break”)

    1. Charlotte Lucas*

      I wonder this, too. Or if for some reason, the employer covers employees with insurance during work hours so has a valid concern. But that should be clear on the handbook of that were the case. (I worked somewhere that had to bus hourly employees to a meeting location on the same city. It was for insurance reasons.)

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        Otherwise, it’s nobody’s business how the employees spend lunchtime. (Provided they aren’t doing things like robbing banks while wearing a company-branded polo.)

            1. Cyndi*

              Hey I just got a great idea for a way to impress my boss with some gumption before I angle for a raise! Totally foolproof plan, will report back soon.


    2. MigraineMonth*

      You also need to pay them well enough to make this worthwhile. If the company was paying for the lunch hour, I think it would be more okay to say you can’t do other paid work during it (though it would still be an overreach to forbid doctors appointments or errands, IMO).

  13. Annony*

    #2: I find it odd that the OP thinks a lunch break is for “rest and relaxation.” I don’t know anyone who uses it that way. Most people eat lunch and/or run errands. I would say I know more people who work through lunch than take an hour off. Typically they are working for the job they are taking the lunch break for, but functionally they still aren’t recharging to come back fresh after lunch. Unless there is an actual performance problem, it shouldn’t be a problem at all to work a second job while clocked out.

    1. Judge Judy and Executioner*

      I don’t know anyone who rests or relaxes at lunch either – maybe socialize with colleagues, takes a walk, etc, but those are not resting or relaxing. I always take an hour lunch on work from home days. On in office days I usually work through lunch or do working lunch meetings so I can count it as working time get my hours in without having to come in earlier or stay later.

      1. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

        I walked and /or socialised during most of my lunch breaks and found that a very relaxing break that enabled me to return refreshed for work

    2. BellyButton*

      Right? I used to live in the country and commuted into town. Lunch was for appointments and errands so I wouldn’t have to drive an hour back into town on the weekends.

    3. Czhorat*

      I use mine for recreation, but I’m in a big city and can wander out of the office to a park, library, or someplace else nice.

      On days I work from home I’ll often spend my lunch break doing dishes or a load of laundry or something; not exactly rest, but it’s useful time to me.

  14. Former Retail Lifer*

    For #2, I get paid fairly, and pretty well for my position. However, I’ve had some really large medical bills (even with insurance) over the past few years, and my dog had emergency surgery which cost $7000. I’m paying out very large portions of my paychecks to these debts. While I don’t have the energy for a side gig, I’d be really upset if I did and my employer was trying to prevent me from having one. You don’t know what the employee’s expenses are outside of work, and if the side gig isn’t interfering, don’t worry about it.

    1. Judge Judy and Executioner*

      I’m sorry about your dog, I hope they’re doing better now. I could also see taking on a side job for an unexpected expense, or even for spending money. As a manager, I really don’t care what my employees are doing on their lunch break. It’s their time to use as they see fit, and I don’t know why it would bother me unless they had to cover a desk at specific hours and were frequently late getting back from lunch. If that was the case, as Alison said, I’d address the lateness, not the cause.

  15. CSRoadWarrior*

    #3: I can totally relate. I don’t consider coworkers my friends. I want to spend my weekends away from work as much as possible. This includes the people I work with.

    That being said, to go to a bridal shower or any other event with coworkers on a Saturday does not sound like a fun time. It will just feel like work. So I totally feel for OP not wanting to go to the bridal shower.

    1. allathian*

      Yes, me too.

      I enjoy socializing with my coworkers on my breaks when I’m at the office. I enjoy it a lot, actually, to the point that my main reason for going to the office at all is to socialize with my coworkers. I get more work done at home, because my job requires almost no collaboration, and certainly no synchronous collaboration. But my manager and my employer in general recognize that building a supportive work community has an intrinsic value.

  16. Busy Middle Manager*

    Bridal shower one – this isn’t exactly what you asked but I’ve noticed the theme of “getting out of any events” comes up here often. So I will share an anecdote.

    A few summers ago a coworker decided to have a party at their house, they are WFH 2 1/2 hours away. I thought of excuses not to go, dreaded it. Then ended up going and it was lovely in ways I didn’t expect. Their house and yard and deck were so relaxing that I didn’t feel like going home; they got a great caterer. It was just a good memory.

    I think a lot of people catastrophize events and work backwards from there. Sometimes you need to acknowledge that these events can have plus sides. People might say “but they don’t want to go” to which I will say, again, most people catastrophize events and work backward to the assumption that they don’t want to go. I’m also realizing as a general life rule that it’s not a great idea to consistently say no to events and invitations. Looking back on life, I only have positive memories from things I hadn’t wanted to do; I don’t remember the time periods when I stayed home to avoid events.

    1. Not Going Out*

      I find it weird that you think people catastrophize and work backwards. I never want to go to these things. It’s not because I think they’ll be awful terrible very bad no-good, it’s just because I don’t want to. I don’t know anyone who actually thinks “oh no this will be hell”, it’s mostly just “ugh, no thanks”.

      All my good memories are of the times I avoided doing the crap I didn’t want to do! It’s such fun. Everyone should do it. (Or alternatively, maybe they should just accept that sweeping generalisations based on one’s own very limited experience and preferences are not in fact universally applicable advice *shrug*)

      1. N C Kiddle*

        Yeah, even if they theoretically might enjoy it more than they anticipated, grown ups still get to make their own decisions about how to spend their free time. Sometimes people feel like it would be rude to say no, so they go along with things they don’t want to do and end up feeling resentful, so I’m all in favour of Alison providing scripts for “thanks but no thanks”.

    2. Pikachu*

      There is a big difference between choosing to travel 2 hours because you want to check it out vs. feeling pressured to travel 2 hours because a group of people is throwing a party in your honor that you never wanted for an event that doesn’t really involve any of them at all.

      1. Jennifer Strange*

        I agree with this. The LW wasn’t just invited to the party, they were the guest of honor! That’s a lot of pressure when it’s not something you want.

  17. BellyButton*

    Maybe the employee doing Uber needs the money. Are they paid market rate? Maybe they have student loans. If it isn’t affecting their work, leave it alone.

  18. adult-ish2319*

    #3 say “My weekends are totally dedicated to wedding planning right now. I have so many appointments! Could we do something during lunch one week?”
    Or if you aren’t going to invite them say “My wedding is a very intimate affair with a very limited guest list. I wouldn’t feel right about a party being thrown for me when my budget isn’t going to allow for invites to my coworkers”

    1. BellyButton*

      This. Someone should not be invited to give you gifts if they aren’t being invited to the wedding. That is tacky AF.

      1. She of Many Hats*

        Although if you read Miss Manners, you realize most folks don’t know that and have to be told then still do it anyway.

      2. SpaceySteph*

        A lot of advice columnists do see an exception for coworkers because its common to not invite coworkers to a wedding but they may still like to organize something for you.

        I would happily attend a work shower for someone with no expectation of being invited to the wedding. I’ve been to one that was themed “kitchen utensils” (and everyone brought a spatula/spoon/pie cutter from the registry) or someone collects money for a group gift/giftcard so your individual gift burden isn’t very large. When I got married my group gave me a sizable gift certificate but I doubt any individual person put in more than $10.

    2. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

      Yes. Wedding planning is going to be a fantastic excuse to get out of weekend events you don’t want to go to.

      Personally, I figure if people are going to assume they’re invited, that’s a them-problem. But I can see how other people might want to head this one off at the pass.

  19. BellyButton*

    Having coworkers throw me a birthday party, bridal or baby shower during work would be awful, but after hours??? UGGGGG. No thanks. I also wouldn’t throw a party without asking the honoree’s permission! Who does that???

  20. Anon for This*

    I mean, I have definitely made up tech-based excuses for not doing something and counted on the known incompetence of our IT department as a safety net against being caught. But I suppose that not everyone has an office culture where they are expected to be perfect while their coworkers get away with (literal — yes, literal) murder, their boss is cold and distant to the point that they’re terrified to ask questions, and they hate the actual work. Can we cut this employee a little slack if this is the first time they’ve ever freaked out and overreacted?

      1. Bunny Lake Is Found*

        My issue isn’t with the lie. Insisting “I swear I typed it in, it was on it when I sent it, I don’t know what happened” when you know you just blanked and never told payroll is a pretty low level lie. Maybe employee is misremembering? Happens to the best of us.

        It is the forging evidence that bothers me. It is one thing to say “I don’t know why the email isn’t there, I KNOW I included payroll” it is another to create an entire fake papertrail. The only thing I can conclude is that we are talking about something like not letting payroll know about a tax deduction or a health insurance elective–something with BIG consequences…otherwise I don’t understand this level of duplicity over forgetting to copy someone on an email. It would be where the employee really needed to be right about sending the email to payroll–something where it might have been prudent for the employee to follow up and the ONLY way the employee can protect themselves is having hard proof it was NOT in their court. This would indicate a bigger problem that the employee is not paying close enough attention to details on important things.

      2. Anon for This*

        Our facilities officer for years was someone who openly bragged about getting off on a murder charge on a technicality. No one dared try to fire him.

        Anyway, to the larger question at hand. There have been several instances over the years where I’ve forgotten to do something, and when my manager asks, rather than admit to it, I panic in the moment and say that some system or another glitched and I haven’t been able to do it, or I panic and say that I’ve done it and then when someone else notices that I haven’t, I say that there must have been a system glitch. Our IT department couldn’t code their way across a single monitor screen, and no one takes their word for anything, so no one’s going to go ask them to verify if there’s a possibility of work going missing due to a system error. It’s always been preferable to admitting my memory is a disaster. I’ll sit for hours trying to remember what the hell I need to do on a given day, and eventually just give up — because after hour five, nothing more is going come to me. Handwritten notes are scrutinized so harshly in my office that I don’t dare take them in meetings to help me remember to-do lists. We are not functional, and frankly, functional offices with an expectation of competency scare me — because then I would actually have to find a way to stop forgetting things and making mistakes.

        1. Emmy Noether*

          I’m sorry you’re going through this -it seems to have warped your perception already, and sounds really stressful. I swear, functional offices don’t expect you to never forget anything or to never make mistakes. They give you tools to prevent and mitigate normal human errors (like being able to take your own dang private notes in meetings, sharing action points after meetings, having systems in place to organize work tasks, etc.), and they deal with mistakes compassionately. Please, if at all possible, get out! There are actual good places to work out there!

          1. Anon for This*

            Thanks for your kind words. There really is no escaping. I have a degree in an extremely specific field, and the workplace options with that degree are (1) this company or (2) the government. Given the direction of my country’s government, I can’t — for my own safety — go work for them (and the requirements to join their ranks are arduous anyway). Relearning how to be competent at the same time I learned an entirely new field — if I decided to change industries — is just not possible for someone with a brain as medication-addled as mine. So here I am. Maybe enough of senior leadership will retire soon that we can make a stab at some culture change to reduce fear around here.

            Anyway, I tell most teenagers whom I know not to bother with super-specific degrees, because all they do is box you into corners that you might not like in ten or 15 years.

    1. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      Huh? If it’s OK to lie when you hate your work, is it OK to steal too?

      1. New Jack Karyn*

        No, it’s not about hating the work. It’s about a toxic environment, which we all know warps people’s perceptions and reactions to stress.

    2. Murphy*

      But I suppose that not everyone has an office culture where they are expected to be perfect while their coworkers get away with (literal — yes, literal) murder, their boss is cold and distant to the point that they’re terrified to ask questions, and they hate the actual work. Can we cut this employee a little slack if this is the first time they’ve ever freaked out and overreacted?

      The reasoning behind the employee’s decision to do this is really important, as are the points you raise.

      Automatically assuming the answer is “this person is a terrible liar who lies and is not trustworthy and cannot be trusted ever again” would be foolish, particularly if it’s a symptom of a bigger problem, which it pretty much always has been whenever I’ve encountered it.

      (I can recall at least two instances where the person was very clearly in the earliest stages of recovering from a toxic workplace, and they had clearly gone into panic mode. Thankfully, both managers were compassionate and empathetic, and both instances were very much minor and a one-off, and both employees went on to be top performers, and they would have been a great loss to the teams and companies if cooler heads had not prevailed.)

    3. Orv*

      As an IT person, I don’t mind if you blame the computer, but if you could clue me in to when you have a real problem vs. a fake one it’d be really helpful. I’ve been sent on a lot of wild goose chases that way. I don’t even mind helping someone with their excuse, I just don’t like putting effort into trying to track down something that never happened. Computers have enough weird glitches without inventing some. ;)

  21. Heather*

    If your employee has to door dash and run uber eats during his lunch break, your company may need to revisit its pay structure in the city you live in…

  22. Rondeaux*

    New line in startup job descriptions: We believe all people deserve to be at their best and fully refreshed while at work, so we happily give all employees an hour of rest and recreation every day!

    1. Cyndi*

      This makes me think of a video game I’ve been playing a lot lately (Coral Island) where a corporate middle manager boasts, “We value work/life balance here! That’s why we give our employees some weekends off!”

  23. Sarah*

    I anyone able to find the original Faked an Email post? I’m unable to read it at Medium and have tried searching for it

  24. Raida*

    I’d sit down with her and say “IT is checking this out. Look I’ve certainly sent emails to the wrong person, or missed a cc, in my time. The way I handled it when asked was to find the sent email, realise my mistake, cop to it, and forward the email to the right person/team.
    That’s how I want you to handle such small issues.
    So, when IT get back to me with what’s happened, we’ll catch up again. Should be tomorrow. You decide how you want to handle it.”

    will she freak out a bit? Yeah.
    is that the cost of lying? Yeah.

    1. Murphy*

      With respect, what is the goal of having this conversation? Do you want the employee to feel anxious or afraid that they will lose their job? How long will you leave them hanging waiting to see if the axe falls onto their neck?

      Most people lie about minor things like this because they have a moment of panic that they will be severely punished if they don’t lie, usually because a previous manager or workplace, an educational environment, their family, or some other group they’ve been part of have made them feel unsafe for admitting to having made a mistake, or needing to ask clarifying questions. That doesn’t mean that it’s okay to lie, but the reasoning behind it is really important, just as it’s really important to ensure we don’t over-react.

      Saying this type of thing is even worse than the classic “I need to talk to you” from your manager, without any further context.

      1. Bunny Lake Is Found*

        I think the reasoning is to let the employee know that the mistake, the actual failing to send the email, is NOT something that the employee is going to get fired or horribly reprimanded for and to give them a chance to say “hey, yeah, I didn’t actually send it.”

        Now, 2 changes. First, I would say “I am GOING TO ask IT to check this out”. Second, after telling the employee how I expect them to handle it, I wouldn’t do the ‘I will confront you by Wednesday’ level end paragraph, I would opt for:

        “But, I know that sometimes everyone can get in their heads and choose a path forward that is not a great one. The circumstances here are pretty odd, so I really wanted to check and see if you are sure about what happened with the email, or if the situation is more complicated.”

        I think that would give an opening for the employee to explain any extenuating circumstances that lead to this. Also, it is my firm belief most people think that at a certain point they just have no option to disavow a lie–having already alerted IT would feel to many like they are past the point of no return. Putting the employee into a position where they feel they can still stop the train and that their manager is ready to listen will give a GOOD employee who made a stupid choice and they know it an opening to lay it on the table.

  25. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

    #1 Sounds like the employee would have been fine if she’d just admitted she forget to cc payroll. Most managers accept that humans occasionally forget things.
    However, she chose to forge a document, which is much worse than a verbal lie (and it may remain some time in the system if your record retention rules so require)
    That’s warrants a very stern and final warning, even for a good employee. A mediocre employee could be legally fired for this in most workplaces. Having a liar around can be as tiresome as having a thief.

  26. Murphy*

    If a non-manager lies at work, it is absolutely critical to establish the reason why they lied. Jumping straight to the worst possible conclusion of “this person is a terrible liar who lies and is not trustworthy and cannot be trusted ever again” is overly simplistic and potentially quite damaging. It can also be the proverbial canary in the coalmine for much bigger problems that go far beyond a single employee, and you cannot afford to miss this warning.

    Did the person lie because they have been made to feel like asking questions or raising concerns or problems is unwise or even unsafe?

    I’ve seen this type of thing a few times, and upon investigation, the reason was always essentially a lack of psychological safety due to micromanagement, bullying, excessive and uncalled-for performance management, as well as a case of racial discrimination, and another of disability discrimination.

    Of course, some people will lie just because, or for nefarious reasons, but it’s more complicated than that for most adults in the workplace.

    1. Murphy*

      And to add to my comment above, it also needs to be established that the below actually happened, and that it’s not just an assumption or mistake being made by the manager:

      When I followed up with her about this, she forwarded the email to payroll “again,” but in fact just typed in
      “” in the cc section of the original email before forwarding it, so it looked like the original email was sent to payroll when it really wasn’t.

    2. ralph*

      I was thinking the same thing. This is such a minor thing to lie over that if I were the manager I’d do some serious reflecting on how I’ve reacted to mistakes in the past. Sure, it’s possible this employee will lie about anything big or small to avoid looking bad but that doesn’t seem likely.

  27. anon 4 this*

    I usually like and agree with Alison’s advice, but I’m frankly disappointed in her response to the first letter. It seems like a really hard-line and counterproductive approach to take, when she hasn’t even stated that the LW needs to ascertain why the employee lied before making any other decisions and make sure that what LW suspects is indeed what took place. Is it a psychological safety issue caused by LW’s reactions to past mistakes or issues, or the broader workplace culture? Is it a workplace PTSD symptom from LW, an ex-boss, or an ex-job? If so, LW just needs to make the employee feel supported and psychologically safe, and the likelihood of the employee lying again due to this fear is pretty slim, because the fear has been addressed and removed.

    Quite frankly, I wish Alison was this vehement in her 23 January post about the power-hungry manager who lied in all her direct reports’ performance reviews to scapegoat them for her own incompetence by blaming them for all her mistakes and claiming they were bad at their jobs. This could impact pay, promotions and even the job security of the people this person manages, and I would say that letter was far more worthy of this level of severe response, because you know who will definitely lie again if they can get away with it? People in positions of power, like managers.

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