an employee is out to get my star performer, and no one else cares

A reader writes:

I manage Tina, who is a genius. She’s fresh from school but has already saved our department tens of thousands. We acquired a few failed companies and Tina dove in, learned all their systems, and automated the pulling of data in a week. This saved us hundreds of hours in training and is just one of many examples I could share. She’s also kind and a patient teacher who shares her knowledge of AI and automation with all the other analysts.

My problem is with her coworker, Dave. If she speaks, he interrupts. If she volunteers, he argues he should do it. He’s lodged many complaints to me about Tina, but one time I happened to overhear their chat. He came to complain to me shortly after and I let him go on to see if he would be truthful, but he lied about her tone and left out context to make her seem unreasonable. I let him know that I overheard that entire exchange and I disagreed completely with his assessment. Since then, he complains to his manager, Jen, who complains to me.

I scheduled a lunch with Jen off-site to hash this out. I asked why she believes Dan after I proved he lied. Jen replied, “Tina’s not perfect” and gave me two examples where Tina pushed too hard for her solution and overstepped her bounds as an analyst. I thanked Jen and let her know I’d address these with Tina.

When I spoke to Tina, she agreed but asked why I was bringing something up from 2022. I was embarrassed to learn these examples were so old, but Tina just laughed it off and told me she had learned the hard way that an office is not like a college seminar.

I went back to Jen and asked if she realized her examples were from 15 months ago and she confessed they were. I told her that if she ever has recent examples, she can come to me, but I would appreciate evaluating today’s Tina.

Things calmed down for a couple months, but then two awful things happened. First, performance reviews were due and I gave Tina a 5/5 so she could get a decent raise and a small bonus. Then I got an email to click for final approval and there was a warning about needing to fill out her PIP within 10 days of submission. Confused, I went in and her prior manager, Sally, had changed her score to 1/5. I called Sally to figure out what the heck she was thinking. She gave me those same two examples from 2022 and I pointed out that those weren’t even in this performance year, but even if they were they would in no way merit a 1/5. Honestly, I wasn’t the most diplomatic about it because I was pretty pissed and felt like she tried to pull a fast one on me by changing the score without discussion. If it weren’t for the warning message about about the PIP, I may have approved it accidentally.

Since we both had to sign off on the review and couldn’t agree, we escalated it to my department head and manager, Mike. Mike’s response was that he completely trusts and respects his managers’ perspectives, so to compromise Tina will get a 3. Both Sally and I tried to argue this wasn’t fair, but Mike just laughed that the sign of a good compromise was both sides are mad.

I made sure to write really kind comments on every metric and wrote out everything Tina had achieved this year. It was almost two pages on some metrics! Sally was also able to write comments, and she copy and pasted the same nasty paragraph under each metric and summary, calling Tina bossy, pushy, abrasive, and arrogant. Unfortunately, since she put her comments in after mine, this meant hers showed up first too. Tina was really mature about it and kept her chin up despite clearly being disappointed that she would only get an average raise and no bonus when she was doing so much more than any other analyst.

Then, when I left for vacation, Dave sent an email to all the analysts, managers, Mike, and even the department VP, pointing out a huge mistake in a prestigous monthly report Tina produces. Well, it turns out Dave had gone onto the server and changed the report to introduce the error! Tina replied all and provided screenshots proving he had done this. Unbeknownst to Dave, she had sent the report to the VP the night before and attached that version, which didn’t have the error. I found out when Tina called me on vacation asking for support, so I immediately called Jen, who told me Dave was out of line and she would handle it.

Jen’s way of “handling” the situation was to tell Tina that Dave had confessed but it’s understandable Dave would balk at having Tina reporting his data to the VP. She used this as an excuse to break the report out to an analyst from each team “for fairness.” So Dave’s punishment for sabotaging work and trying to smear Tina to the entire department was to get exactly what he wanted. This was all decided while I was on vacation and by the time I had returned and learned of this, a lot of analysts had been promised part of the report. I then found out that Dave wasn’t even on a PIP and was getting 4/5 on his performance review. I complained to Mike, who told me that Dave’s performance is Jen’s purview and not mine. I then went to our VP, Hank, who privately agreed with me that Dave was getting off easy and Tina was getting shafted, but also said that getting into the minutia of analyst’s performance reviews wouldn’t be a good look for him since this was just personality clashes and nothing illegal or discriminatory had happened.

It’s been two months and Tina is quiet, no longer volunteers for work, and generally seems miserable. I don’t blame her, but I also miss my star performer. I also hate that Dave is strutting around rubbing it in whenever he can. I treated Tina to a few lunches off-site so she could vent. I offered to help her in any way, but so far all she asked for was to have the coordination of the analysts’ pieces of the prestigious report taken off her plate. I made it happen, but the analyst in charge screwed it up badly and Hank asked Tina to please take it back over, so she reluctantly did. Other than that, I’ve shut down all complaints from Dave publicly any time I hear them. I tried asking the other managers for help but they all don’t want to take sides in the “drama.”

I just know Tina is going to quit and I’ve failed her as a manager. Is there anything else I can do? Do you agree with me that Dave should have been fired? Sometimes between Sally and Jen I feel like I live in a different reality.

Your company is a mess.

Yes, Dave should have been fired. He’s been on a long-term campaign to undermine Tina with lies, and then purposely inserted a huge error in a report and lied to make it look like she did it. Either one of those is a massive offense and indictment of his character, and it’s unconscionable that he not only wasn’t fired but apparently has suffered no consequences.

Jen also should be facing some consequences — at a minimum, some serious scrutiny of her judgment and management.

The same goes for Sally, Tina’s old manager who changed her evaluation score without you knowing and tried to put her on a PIP when she doesn’t even manage her anymore (what?).

The same goes for Mike and Hank, on whose watch all of this has happened.

What is going on in your company that multiple people are targeting a star performer, using flimsy and even outright fabricated evidence to do it, and no one above them cares to act? Did Tina … murder all their children? The amount of coordinated vitriol directed at her should be setting off alarm bells somewhere in your company, and the fact that it’s not is mind-blowing.

I don’t know that there’s anything else you personally can do; you’ve tried to advocate for Tina (and for common sense) and been shot down at every turn. All that’s really left for you is to be transparent with Tina about what’s going on so she can make the best decisions possible for herself, and to support her in finding a new job where she’ll be treated fairly and her contributions recognized. If she indicates she wants to leave, don’t try to talk her out of it simply because you want to keep your star performer; it’s in her best interests to get out. Offer to be a glowing reference, and let her know what happened is awful and she has your full support in getting out.

I recommend you think about doing the same! This is not a place you want to build a career.

Read an update to this letter

{ 648 comments… read them below }

  1. Czhorat*

    Even if NOTHING else had happened, falsifying records to smear another employee should be grounds for immediate dismissal. Do not pass go, do not collect $200. It sounds like Tina came in with a bit too much swagger for a brand new employee, but learned and got better at that part of her job as well.

    Tina is almost certainly looking for another job, and LW may be asked to give a reference. I agree with Allison; this isn’t just a place that doesn’t value results, but they don’t value integrity either. Run away.

    1. Hlao-roo*

      Yes, I’m very disappointed in Hank’s “this is just personality clashes” response. Falsifying data is not a personality clash!

      1. Dust Bunny*

        Yeah, he might be personally likable but as a boss, Hank sucks.

        Your workplace is a disaster. I hope both you and Tina GTFO ASAP.

      2. Czhorat*

        And shouldn’t result in a PIP; as Allison has said before, there’s no metric for “doesn’t steal/lie/abuse trust”.

        Mistakes are forgivable; deliberate dishonesty less so.

      3. juliebulie*

        Even if it if were “just” personality clashes, based on the actual things that Dave and Jen did, it would still warrant action because you cannot have people editing data in a report. Especially a “prestigious report” which I assume puts the company’s reputation on the line.

      4. Sloanicota*

        Yeah, that was actually the ultimate point of failure; there was no hope after that. The people above OP’s head don’t care about retaining good performers or managing criminally terrible ones. There’s nothing else to do but get out at that point. It sounds like Tina already gets this. I guess the only thing to learn in future is to understand, if possible, how to get the Mikes and Hanks of the world in line with her point of view sooner.

      5. I Have RBF*

        This. Deliberately tampering with another person’s work and then pointing at it and saying “So-and-so is a fuck up” is past mistakes or even pettiness. I wouldn’t even want someone that underhanded on a PIP. Dave needed to be fired for lying and sabotaging another employees work out of malice. He has so many strikes just out of what was in the letter that I don’t understand why any of the managers put up with it.

        IMO, when Sally, who doesn’t even manage her, tried to sabotage her review and put her on a PIP just because Dave didn’t like her, I would have given Sally her walking papers too.

        LW, your office is a freaking dumpster fire full of bees clothed in banana suits. I suggest both you and Tina get the hell out, before the insanity warps you further.

        Seriously, RUN!

      6. rebelwithmouseyhair*

        I was thinking it’d pan out like the wild post where the OP was fired for putting chili in her food, which made her colleague sick when he stole it, and it turned out the colleague was in an affair with the person from HR who fired her. So I was thinking Mike is having an affair with Jen, but then I got to this bit and wondered who Mike and Hank are sleeping with? Is it a whole nother duck club?

        Tina is too successful for her own good, just like Taylor Swift. The men are just so jealous of talented women! She probably needs to set up her own company just to avoid having jealous colleagues. She’s smart enough, for sure.

    2. Molly Coddler*

      “sounds like Tina came in with too much swagger”? how did you make that assumption? i didn’t see that at all. and i wonder if people ever say that about men coming in with too much swagger, confidence, or anything.

      1. Spencer Hastings*

        Probably because the LW said this:

        When I spoke to Tina, she agreed but asked why I was bringing something up from 2022. I was embarrassed to learn these examples were so old, but Tina just laughed it off and told me she had learned the hard way that an office is not like a college seminar.
        I went back to Jen and asked if she realized her examples were from 15 months ago and she confessed they were. I told her that if she ever has recent examples, she can come to me, but I would appreciate evaluating today’s Tina.

        In my experience, men often have this problem too, and it does have consequences (we have a couple of new-ish male staff members right now who will hopefully mature in the same way Tina has).

        1. Czhorat*

          I don’t see that as a man/woman problem; I see it as something that happens with a talented person right out of college facing off with people who have years of experience.

          It sounds as if her solutions were right, but after some time in the workforce you learn that that isn’t all that matters; there’s a political element as well.

          “Swagger” was evidently a poor word choice that didn’t send the message I intended.

          1. not applicable*

            Genuine question from a former “talented person right out of college facing off with people who have years of experience”: can you please explain to me why that political element matters so much?

            It seems to me that if more people would listen to those that had the right solutions – like Tina did! – and spent their capital in championing those ideas rather than protecting that political element, there would be room for a lot more growth.

            1. Czhorat*

              Because at the end of the day you have to work with other people, not pure logic machines. If you don’t understand that some people have an emotional investment in the way they’ve done things then yo will sometimes hit a brick wall.

              Pushing for change can cost political capital, and if you do it too much too hard you might make people defensive and *less* likely to accept better solutions. Sometimes backing down on something today because there’s strong opposition is what leaves you with the standing to push for something else later, while continuing a protracted fight makes them think of you as difficult and combative.

              I do NOT think this is as far as Tina took it, but it’s an especially easy new-person trap to fall into. There’s a related trap in which your better ideas *might even be wrong* – sometimes there are good reasons why what look like bad ideas to you can make more sense than the on-paper better solution.

              1. Some Dude*

                Also because sometimes if you are new you might be missing critical pieces of information that aren’t well documented, or aspects of the company culture/history that make certain obvious solutions either untenable or a really hard fight. I’m old, but I started a new job recently and I’ve run into a lot of hidden obstacles that were not obvious until I learned more about the org culture, and I’ve put my foot in it several times.

                1. Czhorat*


                  And sometimes you bring fresh eyes and see something everyone else missed because they developed tunnel vision.

                  It can go either way, but you need to learn to be thick-skinned enough to have your ideas shot down and gentle enough to suggest changes without making enemies. “Always defer” is wrong, but so is “always push”. It’s a tough balance that you can only learn via experience.

              2. stratospherica*

                Yeah, agreed. When you’re new you’re an unknown quantity, and it’s important to pick your battles. It’d be great if we all had the humility to recognise when someone is being brilliant and making brilliant suggestions, but ultimately someone brand new coming in and pushing for wide-reaching changes straight off the bat *is* going to rub people the wrong way.

                It doesn’t just happen with people fresh to the workplace either – it’s happened with a seasoned executive who joined my own company after a very successful career in very famous corporations overseas. He pushed hard on a lot of things without first accumulating political capital and getting a feel for the vibe of the company, and earned a few rivals, even though he’s absolutely correct.

                Having said that, I don’t want this comment to seem like it’s a criticism of Tina. She wasn’t aware of professional norms, quickly learned how you have to play the political game, and adjusted. She did everything right and the people in her company bullying her are outrageously out of line.

            2. GreyjoyGardens*

              I agree; I think this “know your place” stuff is BS. Obviously new people should not come into a company and steamroller everyone, but, if we’re talking “confident, competent and secure, just has to learn a few things about the working world” that would cover a lot of people.

          2. Awkwardness*

            I don’t see that as a man/woman problem; I see it as something that happens with a talented person right out of college facing off with people who have years of experience.

            True. But in my experience people tend to be more forgiving towards men.

          3. Ellie*

            Yes, it has happened twice that I have seen, both were men and both were extremely high performers. You manage it by gently pointing out that while their ideas are terrific, there’s a process that they have to follow that ensures that the right people are involved, as there’s a lot that they might not know about that might impact their idea (like that its been tried before, that it wouldn’t work for X or Y, or just plain political reasons). It seems to happen when a huge amount of talent meets a general lack of experience/maturity. I can’t imagine ever putting it into a performance evaluation though, let alone a PIP. It’s just friendly advice that you offer to any new starter. They lost all credibility when they tried to rate her 1/5 and frankly, sound extremely jealous.

            OP – I advise you to take your revenge by moving on as fast as possible, and if possible, taking Tina with you.

            1. rebelwithmouseyhair*

              Nah, Tina needs to set up her own company so she doesn’t have to deal with jealous colleagues. As the boss, people will have to listen to her.

        2. OMG, Bees!*

          Yeah, a lot of new/young people have this problem of trying too hard to show off it hurts them.

          Reminds me of an intern many years ago. He was tasked with getting a long network cable and came to me, the IT guy, for it. Problem was that I was on the phone with a service issue trying to resolve before end of day (it was almost 5pm), and told him to wait a few minutes. Not wanting to wait, he saw a long network cable on an old looking computer and tried to take it… not realizing that was the primary server for the entire company. Only person I have had to kick out of a server room. He had a lot of issues like this and was not hired for a second internship (unlike his peers).

      2. AngryOctopus*

        I mean, she did say “I learned that life isn’t like a college seminar”, but at the same time, that feels like a really normal learning curve for someone coming into their first job. So maybe Tina did do some overestimating of her abilities, but saying she had “too much swagger” is probably overstating it.

        1. WomEngineer*

          Maybe this is personal bias, but “too much swagger” reads as a micro aggression against young and confident women.

            1. Abundant Shrimp*

              Yeah, if I had a nickel for each new-hire guy that walked into an office saying, maybe in more polite language, some equivalent of “this place is so backwards, you are all doing everything wrong, but no worries i am here to help you fix everything” and went on to raises and promotions and recognition and NO PIP EVER, I’d retire early.

            2. Zweisatz*

              Yeah I think what’s important in this specific instance is that it sounds like she could BACK IT UP. Being good at your job and not a wilting flower is not the same as overconfidence.
              Her coworkers on the other hand, especially Dave, sound threatened.

              1. metadata minion*

                Yes! It sounds like yeah, she overstepped a bit at first, but a) she recognizes that she did, b) it doesn’t sound like it happened all that often or in ways that had huge negative consequences, and c) for once, the overconfident new employee *was generally right* about what needed to be fixed. Sometimes a fresh pair of eyes really can help you see that wait, this process is three mediocre ideas in a trenchcoat because nobody’s had the time/motivation/perspective to step back and really look at why we’re doing it that way.

            3. goddessoftransitory*

              And if she saved the company tens of thousands of dollars in data analysis and training her first year in her first job? Sorry not sorry, she earned that confidence!

          1. Molly Coddler*

            it was the ‘swagger’ that got to me. men don’t get accused of it. maybe of being “green” or “young” or “learning” but i have never heard of men i work with being called on for “swagger” or over-confidence.

            1. Richard Hershberger*

              There was a discussion in Justified about Timothy Olyphant’s character having swagger. This was coming from Erica Tazel’s character: an African-American colleague of his, and how swaggering wasn’t an option available to her. So while he was described this way, it wasn’t really a negative.

            2. Freelance Editor*

              So, I’ve heard this exactly once… when describing a young black man in a department of mostly white people. I was right out of college and didn’t say anything, but I agree that “swagger” as a bad thing only gets used in a discriminatory context. I got told I was “a little overeager” and “should make sure to get all the context” but that my manager still “appreciated me.” I’m white.

            3. Czhorat*

              I’d have said the same thing about a man; my reading of the bit about the two examples of difficult behavior from Tina’s early days was of a young employee brimming with confidence but coming across as a bit arrogant to people who’d been in the workplace longer and think their experience trumps book learning.

              I apologize if this came across as sexism; it was genuinely not intended that way.

            4. Orv*

              I’ll be blunt; in my experience the term “swagger” is used as a compliment for white men and a pejorative for everyone else.

            5. Reluctant Mezzo*

              Well, only Y chromosomes get to do that, you know. Most of us saw BARBIE and we all know how that works.

          2. Ms. Elaneous*

            Amen, WomEngineer.
            I have met many people who are way too impressed with themselves.
            This just sounds like well deserved self confidence.

          3. Miss Chanandler Bong*

            This was what immediately made me see red with this entire letter. Heaven forbid that there be young, confident, successful women out there. Who wants to bed that several men in this company (and probably some of the older women) perceived her as a threat?

            1. goddessoftransitory*

              Pretty damn safe bet. I’m sure Dave went straight into panic mode. And it all worked out for him!

          4. Marzipan Shepherdess*

            There’s nothing “micro” about it! It’s an attempt to undermine a very competent (and hopefully confident) young woman. Seriously, when was the last time you saw confident, competent young MAN described that way?

          5. Mrs T*

            “Too much swagger reads as a micro aggression against young and confident women.

            +1 to this. Tina and LW both need to find a company that values excellence, merit, and hustle, not mediocrity.

          6. Em*

            Y’know, as a young woman, I could decide to take that phrase in the most negative light possible and feel really offended… or I could recognize that the original commenter who used that phrase isn’t out to take confident young women down a notch. Assuming positive intent in these kinds of situations is so much easier and makes it a lot easier to connect with other people.

          7. Ellis Bell*

            Confidence is when you have the skills to back it up. Tina has confidence, it’s Dave who has swagger. This also read to me as really really classic example of hateful sexism. It is true that a low performer will sometimes go after a high performer of any gender, but the way the whole company besides OP has backed up the foolish and vindictive guy, and called the skilled woman “pushy” when they are the ones hanging on to years old mistakes for no reason other than a man is upset…. It’s horses people, not zebras.

            1. no*

              Swagger in a slang sense is typically positive. Assuming that everyone is using the Merriam-Webster definition is silly.

        2. Ari*

          That could just as easily mean that in college, professors want your opinions and input, and some workplaces just want people (especially women) to be seen and not heard.

          1. Dust Bunny*

            Yeah, I read this as learning that there is a difference between the kind of confidence and overachievement that is rewarded in college, and how you’re generally expected to handle it in a work setting.

            1. GreyjoyGardens*

              I read it the same way too. However, it usually is, or should be, just laughed off as “new kid’s gonna new kid” and it’s assumed they will learn. It should never, ever, ever, be a cause for a scolding and a “know your place, kid” or “keep your head down and your mouth shut until you have passed your hazing ritual.”

              I can’t even describe how angry I am on Tina’s behalf here. It sounds like she’s one of the more competent people we’ve seen written about on AAM and someone who would be an asset to any company. The other people except for OP, who is admirably defending their report, are terrible jerks.

            2. stratospherica*

              Yeah, I read it as “openly challenging your lecturer is (as long as you’re not being rude) expected and encouraged and earns you social capital, but openly challenging your manager much less so, and costs you social capital”

      3. The Terrible Tom*

        Yeah. Sounds like Tina came in with a lot really great work.

        Sure, there are two examples where she was perceived by people (who let’s not forget are clearly no good models of professionalism) as needing to calibrate herself to the norms around her, but I think attributing it to “swagger” requires a huuuuuuge assumptive leap, that yes, is probably gendered.

        1. Beth*

          Yes, it’s a terrible blow to an existing group when a new member turns out to be really good, especially when the new person is a woman. The only solution is to destroy the new person, as quickly as possible, at all costs. Ask me how I know about this.

      4. Database Developer Dude*

        They never say it about -white- men coming in with too much swagger, confidence, or anything.

    3. Ari*

      I’m curious why you assume Tina came in acting that way? There’s no indication in the letter that she was anything but professional, and women are far too often called bossy and arrogant for just doing their jobs and trying to exist in the workplace.

      1. Sloanicota*

        It is a *little* weird that Tina’s former boss is so rabidly anti-Tina; I wonder, did the problem with Dave also come from that boss, or did two separate people seem to have this strong a hatred for her? Not trying to blame the victim here, just that if I were OP I’d be trying to understand how it happened twice.

        1. Bitte Meddler*

          Oh, it’s really easy. Tina’s great work made former manager and Dave look bad, and Old Manager and Dave just happen to have the kind of personalities that cannot abide that.

          I’m sure Tina’s work made other’s people work pale in comparison, too, but they are normal adults, not emotional toddlers.

        2. Jules the 3rd*

          Tina’s old boss bought Dave’s bull, because she’s known him for a while, instead of trying to observe independently. Having once bought it and made that 1/5 rating, she is stuck. She can’t admit she was wrong, because that might make people doubt her in other situations.

          I don’t think that everyone there is for sure ‘against Tina,’ I think that there’s a chance it’s that they are ‘for Dave’, and his vitriol has poisoned all of their perceptions.

      2. Czhorat*

        I saw the bit as “pushing too hard for her solutions” – and her later admission that work isn’t like a college seminar – to mean that she thought very highly of her education, didn’t give even the appearance of deference to people with years of experience, and didn’t know when to keep pushing and when to let go.

        Was “swagger” the best word for that? Maybe not. it’s the idea of having not learned the soft touch. That those two examples seemed to be genuine concerns *and* that they were from early in her tenure is what lead me there. It seemed like a natural “new to the workforce learning curve” issue.

        1. Irish Teacher.*

          Hmm, that wasn’t at all how I read it, especially as the manager only had two examples. I took it as she was maybe a bit naive about the workplace and had two ideas that meant a lot to her and she pushed them too hard and yeah, maybe didn’t know when to let go, but I think it’s a bit of a jump to go from “somebody pushed two ideas too hard” to they thought very highly of their education and didn’t give deference to anybody. Especially given that the person who is talking about her is clearly very biased against her and yet can only come up with two examples.

          It sounds more like an over-eagar new graduate than somebody arrogant to me. And I don’t see anything to suggest she was arrogant about her education.

          Given Sally’s animosity towards her, I’d assume everything Sally says is likely to be somewhat exaggerated. My guess is that Sally maybe treated her ideas a bit like a group project and pitched them enthusiastically, not realising that in the workplace, she was maybe expected to wait for the boss to ask for her ideas. That sort of thing.

          1. Czhorat*

            That’s also a fair interpretation.

            Given how over the top the campaign against her is I totally understand treating ANY complaints about her with the utmost skepticism.

    4. Abundant Shrimp*

      Agree that Tina is 1000% looking as I type this and will find something soon being as good as she is, and that LW should do the same for their own sanity. The whole place is a dumpster fire.

    5. AVP*

      OP should just make it really clear that he’ll be a great reference and won’t push her out for trying to leave – even knowing the he’s advocating for her, a lot of junior people would be scared to ask for that, and Tina might need to have OP bring it up first to get that out in the open.

    6. James*

      I agree, intentional sabotage should be an immediate firing. MAYBE if it’s a brand new employee in their first month out of school, I could see making an attempt to keep them around and teach them it’s not acceptable behavior… maybe… but that’s not the case here.

    7. My Useless 2 Cents*

      Tina isn’t the only one who should be looking for another job. OP’s colleagues are showing her immense disrespect. Going behind her back to change her performance reviews, lying to (or at the very least intentionally misleading) OP about problems with her direct report, waiting until she is out of the office to bring up/start issues, and then laying everything at the feet of “personality conflict”. OP you need to run from this company as much as Tina does.

      1. Sloanicota*

        Yeah, OP’s boss not having her back and not trusting her judgement about who’s a great member of her team (and the appropriate way to reward and incentivize them) is blatant disrespect for her role as a manager. OP should definitely be looking to leave over this; you can’t manage effectively if your bosses are going to undercut you every chance they get.

        1. Zweisatz*

          Yeah, sometimes you don’t get the raise through, even if you’re right, but Tina got 3 instead of 5 “as a compromise” with the person who is not her manager?? AND Dave got 4? No.

          1. Jolie*

            It really hit me as a double standard when Mike told OP “Dave’s performance is fir Jen to evaluate, not for you”. Where the frick was that when Sally butted into Tina’s performance appraisal?

            1. Janethesame*

              I think probably Sally managed her part of the year and OP became her manager later. That would be a l9gical reason for both to have input on her review. (Well, maybe not *logical* but it is and explanation) Wonder how she came to be reassigned? Was it because of a general reorganization, or was it in response to a “personality conflict” with Sally, her original nanager?

        2. Estrella the Starfish*

          Particularly when OP’s view of Tina is do easily proven by Tina’s changes saving the company money.

    8. Mel Es*

      Tina and the LW should look for another job. Now!

      The workplace is toxic with the management tolerate folks like Dave. When I read the part on Dave interrupts Tina, I thought this is something to do with a male-dominated profession or workplace. When I read the part on Dave sabotage the data on the server, there’s no doubt to see that Dave is a bully and he didn’t even blink once for doing so. Dave would not be punished for what he does. LW could not change the management’s minds.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        And Dave was REWARDED for his actions, and is the one “swaggering” around and rubbing it in Tina’s face!

        OP, this is the kind of person your bosses want to keep. A lying, cheating bully who deliberately sabotaged the company and risked its reputation because he was butthurt that a younger woman was great at her job. This place is already over, it just is stumbling about unaware that it’s dead. RUN.

      2. stratospherica*

        Yeah, the best solution would probably be for LW to get a job in a collaborative and respectful workplace that encourages people who succeed, and bring Tina in with a generous pay rise. I hope both of them find somewhere that appreciates them.

    9. Alice in Spreadsheetland*

      Yes, even if Tina was a horrible personality to work with it’s utterly unacceptable to falsify reports and lie like this. Plus whatever impact that report error could/did have on the company- sounds like it was caught in this case and they had a correct version right away from Tina but what if Dave’s mistake had made it to clients or into production?

      I hope LW and Tina both get out. I wouldn’t be surprised if they start targeting the LW too because they’ve been so supportive of Tina.

      1. Sloanicota*

        Right! Let’s say Tina actually was waaay over the line early in her tenure – coming in way too hot as a new employee and not respecting the expertise of her colleagues and supervisor. I’ve been there, it happens, it sucks. But even if that least-generous interpretation of events is true, what Dave did was completely insane and he should have been fired immediately, along with anyone who protects him!

        1. Czhorat*

          Oh yes, I agree 100% with that; I am firmly pro-Tina on this, and would be looking to leave any workplace that doesn’t immediately fire someone like Dave.

      2. GreyjoyGardens*

        I agree, this workplace sounds like it’s full of killer bees from a schlocky 70’s horror movie. Lying and falsifying reports? Run, OP and Tina, RUN! (And sue, Tina, sue!)

    10. goddessoftransitory*

      This whole mess made me think of the movie Big, where Tom Hanks gets a job, starts entering data, and is told within ten seconds and in no uncertain terms to knock off working so hard and fast, he’s making the rest of the department look bad.

      This company has made a pact with a crossroads demon to sink into crab bucket backstabbery, and the best thing LW can do is help Tina flee, and take off for better climes herself.

    11. TG*

      I want an update on this!! I hope she goes to HR on this because letting this guy off for PURPOSELY trying to ruin someone’s reputation/career is a horrific offense. I’d also encourage her to take all of this documented activity and go to a lawyer and she.
      Lastly I wish I had had a manager like this as I was targeted by several higher level men in IT some subtle but insidious ways. When I was put on a PIP the year after exceeding expectations, I verified that the quotes form three different folks were all lies and made up; I then went to the VP and survived the PIP and a month later I was promoted out of the group and promoted twice more in three years under that part of the organization….all the men who coordinated on taking me down left one by one as they were pushed out for their differing behaviors

    12. Selena81*

      Some of the other parts of the story are more of a he-said-she-said situation where it might be somewhat reasonable for higher management to not pick a side yet.
      But there is clear proof of him lying to smear a college (changing the data *and* calling wide attention to the supposed mistake). In any decently-run company that would be a firable offense. No severance, no union-protection, no letter of recommendation, just out onto the street you go.

  2. CommanderBanana*

    I hate to be That Person, but what is going on between Jen and Dave that she’s willing to go to such lengths to protect someone who is actively damaging your organization?

    Tina is going to leave. Your organization doesn’t deserve to keep her. I hope you put all of the above into a binder and hand it over during your exit interview as well.

    1. Czhorat*

      Tina is going to leave, but it is NOT because the LW failed her as a manager; LW did everything within their power to support a high-performing employee and was sabotaged by the rest of the disfunctional corporate “family”.

      1. CommanderBanana*

        I didn’t say the LW failed her. The LW is clearly in an impossible situation and I feel terrible for them and I hope they get out too.

          1. CommanderBanana*

            Yeah, it sucks that they feel that way, but this whole org seems deeply dysfunctional to let something this bananas go on.

          2. Llellayena*

            “It is possible to do everything right and still lose.” This is a Kobayashi Maru setup for the LW. Every single other person at the company with say in this situation is supporting Dave and bashing Tina. That’s a no-win situation. The LW doesn’t have the authority to ensure the right steps happen to support Tina because they keep getting countered by someone else with more/different authority. I would tell Tina that you will fully support her in job hunting, provide a stellar reference…and ask her if she sees a job opening while she’s looking that you might like to send it your way.

            1. Reluctant Mezzo*

              And don’t forget, OP is now in the sights to be taken down too for daring to advocate for the non-lying employee.

    2. Caramel & Cheddar*

      I think a lot of managers think it’s their job to protect their staff from other people, and while sometimes that’s true, sometimes it’s a severely misplaced impulse, like here.

      1. Cmdrshprd*

        I think you are referring to Jen? If so I agree.

        I think we are seeing here the two opposite ends of the spectrum good/bad.

        Jen is being a bad manager/person by trying to protect her staff when they are being an ass/making mistakes, Jen should not be projecting Dave.

        OP is being a good manager by trying to protect their staff/Tina when it is not warranted/being unfairly attacked. But OP can only do so much, they don’t need to throw themselves on the grenade for Tina. OP should help Tina move on and likely move on themselves. The company has shown they want/deserve poor performance.

        1. Sloanicota*

          “They don’t need to throw themselves on the grenade for Tina.” – This is interesting to me. Honestly, if I as a manager don’t have the ability to reward people who do truly exceptional work, and instead have to tolerate employees who commit fraud and brag about it (and those who protect and enable them), there’s kind of no point in being in the role at all; it would be better to leave and do something you can feel kind of good about.

          1. Cmdrshprd*

            “there’s kind of no point in being in the role at all;”

            I agree that is why I said “OP should ….. and likely move on themselves.” But I meant that there are several things to take into considerations, and that OP does not need to throw their career/position away at this company for Tina’s sake.

            To me throwing themselves on the grenade for Tina would be something like threatening to quit if they don’t make things right for Tina, or continuing to fight for Tina when things have been made clear that nothing is going to change, at the risk of OPs own role/career.

            I think being in a role/position you can feel good about is great, but sometimes people have to make compromises because the company pays well, or has really good insurance, built up flexibility and they need it for their family over trying to find a great role.

            If OP can move on to a better company/position, I think they should, but understand if circumstances make it that OP needs to stay at this company for now.

    3. I should really pick a name*

      You’re being That Person because you’re asking about Jen and Dave, but not Mike and Dave.

      Mike has all the information too and is protecting Dave, so why only ask about the woman?

      1. AngryOctopus*

        I mean, TBH, absolutely everyone besides Tina and LW suck. They’re either trying actively to undermine Tina, or they’re hiding behind “not getting into personality disputes” or “I trust all my managers and their opinions” territory. This is buzzing like a hive on fire, and Tina and LW need to get out.

      2. Cmdrshprd*

        I think they all are bad (Dave, Jen, Mike, Hank) but it does seem more like each person is trying to protect/cover the person below them rather than specifically Dave. Jen is the one that more directly is trying to protect Dave, so I do think she has more of the blame.

        Mike is trying to cover for Jen, and Hank is covering for Mike. The net result is they are allowing Dave to stay on. It seems everyone is operating under the idea/rule of don’t contradict your staff/back them up in their decisions. While that is generally a good idea, they have taken it to the extreme.

        1. Selena81*

          Jen is actively ignoring what Dave is doing. All the higher-ups seem to be mostly just passive in their ‘pleaaasse do not bother me with all the details of some workplace drama’

      3. Yorick*

        Because Jen is going after Tina harder than Mike is. Mike is using “I don’t want to get involved” and “I let the managers make decisions” to not do anything. Jen is part of the smear campaign by bringing up old complaints.

      4. Spencer Hastings*

        To be fair, there are a lot of names in the letter. I couldn’t keep them all straight either — I forgot that Hank and the VP were the same person until I read it a second time.

    4. Typing All The Time*

      Agreed. Tina saved your company time and money and this is how they treat her. I feel like there’s jealousy and immaturity involved in their actions.

      1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

        The reason doesn’t matter. They are acting like this, show no inclination to change. Tina and OP need to get out.

        1. JustaTech*

          Sadly, yes. There’s a strong desire to know *why* for a lot of reasons – basic curiosity, wanting to know how to avoid a similar situation in the future, wanting to know that it really wasn’t anything you did, but it doesn’t change the outcome or advice, which is that this workplace is no good and Tina and LW need to find someplace better.

    5. GreyjoyGardens*

      This is giving me flashbacks to that letter about the spicy food lover who was accused of “poisoning” a coworker, and HR backed up the coworker. And it turned out that the HR lady was having an affair with the coworker who ate some of the OP’s spicy food and lived to regret it.

      I’m not saying Jen and Dave are having an *affair,* but it’s definitely possible they are friends, pals, buddies, whatever, that make Jen so willing to go out on a (possibly illegal) limb to protect Dave. Or Dave is a family friend. Or her parents and Dave’s parents go to church together.

      1. Selena81*

        It’s definitely possible.

        It’s also possible that she (mistakenly) believes she has to protect ‘her’ team and everyone in it at all costs.

        Or it is even possible that working with Dave already created enough of an emotional connection. Some people just are like that: they will (subconsciously) rate the character of every person along a strict ‘how close am I to them’ axis

    6. rebelwithmouseyhair*

      As I’ve said elsewhere, Jen and Dave are probably having an affair. Maybe I’ve read too much AAM for my mind to go there straight away, but it would explain a lot.

  3. Falling Diphthong*

    Tina should leave for another company. You, OP, should encourage her to do this and offer to act as a stellar reference. Seriously, especially as she is in her first job out of school–you know this shit is off and unfair and not what should be normal; she doesn’t. Encourage her to remove herself from Dave’s purview–and your company has made clear that it is doubling down on being Dave’s purview.

    And you should probably be looking yourself, because this really sounds like the set-up for “and 5 months later I looked around and noticed hey, this water is boiling.”

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      There was a letter some years back from a guy who was doing a great job, had been put in charge of all the training for the new people including those above him, but had been turned down for promotion multiple times. AAM’s advice was that he was never going to get promoted at this company–he’d butted heads with management too many times.

      There was a follow-up. He took the advice to heart, started applying elsewhere, and now worked somewhere he’d been promoted twice–once he was in a different company with different humans, moving up was easy.

      1. OMG, Bees!*

        I was thinking of another similarish letter a few years ago. LW was also a manager with a stellar employee who was passed over again and again for promotions. LW finally learned upper management would never promote the employee because she was too valuable in her existing role; he (I think?) had to tell her such (discretely) and she moved on to another company.

        Unlikely, but possible something like this is happening here, where upper management has realized Tina is a great employee in her current role and wants to keep her down/in her place, which is why they are accepting Dave’s actions and smear campaign. Tina’s only option is to move on.

        1. So they all cheap ass-rolled over and one fell out*

          It’s one (terrible) thing to deny promotions. These (horrible) people are conspiring together to prevent Tina from even getting fully compensated for her current role.

    2. NothingIsLittle*

      I definitely agree with this! Part of being a good manager is advocating for your employees even if that means you loose them, because that positive input is going to help the team in general.

      OP, I would strongly advise you to advise Tina to take a record of the falsifications with her when she leaves. These people for some reason want to sabotage her and I don’t doubt that they would try to dissuade a reference checker.

      You may want to take Tina off campus/out of office, like for coffee or lunch, to explain what’s going on. It sounds like you may get into hot water if anyone overhears you being so transparent. And frankly, I agree that you need to get out too. These people who hate Tina might need a new target when she leaves and they’ll remember that you vocally and strongly supported her.

      1. NothingIsLittle*

        Only strongly is meant to be italicized. I do all my org’s website coding; I should know this, haha.

        1. Lab Boss*

          Well the mistake is made, now- you can expect it to be brought up on your commenter performance evaluation in 2 years. ;)

      2. Blue*

        I absolutely agree on the out of office/campus chat. I’m fairly early into my career, but what’s happening to Tina is my worst nightmare and it would be *very* reassuring to know that my manager had my back regardless of whether I chose to stay or not. It’s entirely possible that she’s job-searching already, or wants to, but feels stuck because she doesn’t think she can trust the company to give her a good reference.

        1. Tabihabibi*

          I think that’s what the lunches were. That made me happy to read LW was already doing that.

      3. Sloanicota*

        Agree that OP should reassure Tina that she’s willing to be a great reference for her and set the record straight if anything else hinky comes out in the new job seeking process. Maybe write it down in a letter too (maybe give her the review language you wanted to use?), just in case anything happens to OP next.

      4. sparkle emoji*

        Strongly agree, LW please tell Tina directly so she knows she has someone in her corner, and then both of you should leave as soon as you find another option. This office is so full of bees. Yikes.

      5. Leenie*

        I mostly agree, but would be very cautious about encouraging her to take proof, if it could possibly be considered proprietary. A couple of these people seem really vindictive and, depending on their data policy and how careful they are with their IT processes, emailing something to a personal address or copying something to a thumb drive could be uncovered and land Tina in hot water. That could result in her being pushed out before she’s ready or, depending on the details, even expose her to legal action. I’m not saying that she absolutely should not take proof. Just that it could be risky, if she doesn’t understand and stay within policy and the law.

      6. Selena81*

        Agreed on taking evidence.
        This job will always be a sore spot on her resume (especially after OP isn’t there anymore to give a good review about Tina).
        But having proof of what she did and for how much money and what caused her to leave is a useful weapon against continued sabotage.

    3. Observer*

      And you should probably be looking yourself, because this really sounds like the set-up for “and 5 months later I looked around and noticed hey, this water is boiling.”

      Yup-pity Yup.

    4. RIP Pillowfort*

      I think everything you’ve said is correct. Trust is broken in this situation, time to move on for both Tina and OP.

      And I hope OP is kind to themselves because this situation is not their fault. There’s too many other people acting badly for this situation to ever improve just by her actions.

    5. Melicious*

      Ooh, I missed that this is her first job like this. Please tell her this is ridiculous and it doesn’t have to be that way!!

      1. Selena81*

        It being her first job is definitely more reason to tell her to leave as fast as possible: in that stage of your career it’s good to move around a bit, and she is in desperate need of learning how a healthy workplace functions.

    6. Smithy*

      Strongly agree.

      Whether it’s a view about how long to stay in a role before it looks good/bad or if Tina has gotten stuck in her own mind about trying to “win” or not be beaten – flagging how wrong you know this is can be valuable in changing a mindset.

      If Tina has been there since 2022 – that’s around two years. Sure, it sounds like she warrants support for advancement and retention in this company, but in many ways the kindest thing the OP can do is acknowledge how this is actively harming Tina’s career disproportionately. And if the reality is that losing Tina would so harm the OP’s standing in this company that the OP doesn’t want to tell her this – then it’s also likely reasonable to consider moving on as well. Because in many ways this is proactively harming the OP’s ability to build a strong team.

      Right now the best way to “retain” Tina, is to retain Tina in your network as someone who trusts and respects you. And just trying to get her moderate success or harm mitigation at your company while others are clearly and actively sabotaging her, at some points is just trying to keep her because it benefits the OP. Not because it benefits Tina.

      1. Jolie*

        Another thing you can do as her manager – use her performance appraisal to help her write her CV.

        I’m an employability advisor for a workers’ rights charity in the UK, and one thing I consistently find is that people who have been stuck in toxic jobs struggle to see what achievements they had in their work, what positive impacts, what made them great workers – exactly the kind of things you want to put in a job description ; and I often rebuild it with them just by interviewing them.

        But you will have all the specific metrics and spectacular numbers, and she can use them to turn them into job description bullet points.

      2. Lab Boss*

        “Trying to win”

        Without starting a mini-version of the discussion on a higher-level comment, I do think it sounds like Tina’s (justified) self-confidence may have resulted in her asserting too strongly early on and needing to learn a softer touch. That kind of personality can easily lead people to see “retreating” as a personal failure, and to get into the mindset that because they’re in the right, they need to prove it- just like how in school being right consistently results in praise, good grades, and success. It’s a hard lesson to learn for these people that sometimes you just have to bail.

        Source: Me. I’m “these people.”

    7. Roland*

      Yes, please make it clear that you are happy to give a glowing reference even though that generally wouldn’t be The Done Thing for a current manager.

    8. goddessoftransitory*

      Yes. Tina’s a brilliant analyst but she’s also new to the workplace, and this experience could seriously warp her sense of what’s normal and acceptable. For her, her experience went like this:

      Company: You’re hired!

      Tina: Thank you! *does amazing job*

      Company: HOW DARE YOU

      Tina: ….what?

  4. Healthcare? Me?*

    This is so bonkers! With Hank’s responses to this situation, I agree on both of you working to get out of there. Neither of you are being supported or protected, and, frankly, Tina doesn’t deserve to be targeted in this way (going based off of only info in this letter). If someone targets you next, we already know how Hank would respond.

    Also the fact that she asked for one allowance and was denied? Boo Hank

    1. Portia*

      In this company, Hank probably dismisses *anything* having to do with a woman as a “personality conflict.” This whole situation reeks of sexism as well as reflexive resentment of the young and talented.

      Tina needs to get the heck out of there. If Dave sees an opportunity to sabotage her again, he will do it — it worked out great for him last time! — so she’s taking a risk by being anywhere near him. I hope she finds something better, and soon.

      1. Satan's Panties*

        This is like elementary school, when bullying is allowed to continue because “If I have to intervene every time someone picks on the targeted kid, I’d have to intervene all day long.” Dave falsified a report, a major offense, but it seems like it got handwaved because Tina was the target of it. “Oh, Dave picks on Tina, and I can’t get involved in the drama.” Jeez, maybe he could embezzle and get away with it by setting Tina up for the fall.

        And count me among the people who wonder if Tina has the same complexion as Dave, Sally and Jen.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          Yep, Tina is definitely the sacrificial lamb here–as long as she’s bearing the brunt nobody’s going “to get involved.”

          Dave knew exactly what he was doing when he targeted her. He wasn’t the only one feeling threatened; he just channeled all of it into a sabotage campaign.

        2. Irish Teacher.*

          And an incredibly dysfunctional elementary school at that. I’ve worked with a couple of teachers who took that attitude and they were…well, pretty much missing stairs themselves.

        3. tangerineRose*

          Not an elementary school, but I worked at a daycare center. We did NOT allow bullying. And you know, if you have reasonable rules at a daycare, and you always gently enforce them, and the kids feel safe, they’ll tell new kids when the new kids break the rules. It actually runs much more smoothly if you prevent bullying and rule-breaking.

  5. Stella70*

    Unfortunately, this is not uncommon. As a manager, I have had stellar employees, too, and often, I worked just as hard protecting them as I did trying to improve the “sloths”. In every instance, I literally helped them find another job elsewhere. Ethical to my employer? No. Helpful with my conscience? Yes. Tried though I did, I couldn’t correct their situations, but I could help them get out, so I did.

    1. nopetopus*

      That sounds perfectly ethical to your employer in my book. They proved that they don’t value your high performers and don’t want to create an environment for them to stay in, so you are simply following through with what the company seems to want ;)

      1. Richard Hershberger*

        This is a variant on the principle of don’t care more about your job than your boss does.

        1. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

          Yup. Don’t invest your time on solving problems that the organization doesn’t want to solve.

    2. NothingIsLittle*

      Actually, I would argue that it is/was ethical to your employer! Even if those high performers end up leaving, your obvious support and care is likely to keep them working at a higher level before they leave. Plus, it means that high performers are more likely to be attracted to your team because of that support.

    3. Nea*

      LW really needs to not just vent, but use whatever connections they have to point Tina in the right direction. She went from school straight to this Hellmouth; she doesn’t have the connections and perspective LW does.

    4. GreyjoyGardens*

      You don’t owe your employer anything more than an honest day’s work. You certainly don’t owe them your loyalty, because how loyal would they be to you when the chips are down? If you want to be ethical and loyal, be ethical and loyal to your great employees. People, not things or entities.

      “Loyalty” is all too often weaponized BS anyway to guilt trip people. I may be an old and jaded and cynical such and so, but loyalty is for chumps.

  6. nycnpo*


    This makes me so angry. Yes, you both should leave. Yes, easier said than done. Wow – what a mess. After saving the company so much money that is absolutely ridiculous. Poor Tina.

    1. Hills to Die on*

      Ugh me too. I have been in this position where people have a horribly misguided idea of what ‘fair’ means. I hope you and Tina get to work together again someplace better that you both deserve.
      The other managers deserve a Worst Boss nomination and I am disgusted for you and Tina.

      1. AngryOctopus*

        This! Saying “I trust all my managers” in this case is code for “I can’t be bothered to figure out who is telling the truth in these two disparate scenarios, and I also can’t be bothered to look at Tina’s actual work record, so I’m just going to say you’re all right and hope that it works out”. Everyone above LW is utterly failing on everything they should be doing to be good bosses and good for the company.

        1. Sloanicota*

          It’s also totally disrespectful to OP and demonstrates no commitment to backing them on future judgement calls impacting their team. What someone else choses to do about Dave or Jen or Sally isn’t necessarily your problem, but Tina her staff member and part of her team, and Tina’s management should have been up to OP.

        2. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

          Great point. It defies belief that Tina was a 1/5 employee for one manager and a 5/5 employee for another, in the same job. It’s possible, but the chances are miniscule. Hank trusts the LW, but not enough to back them on this.

          1. MigraineMonth*

            It’s also bizarre that a manager would look at one of their employees giving 1/5 and the other giving 5/5 and *not dig in further*. Even with no other context, that means one of the people you manage is failing at their job; you can’t just shrug and decide it’s none of your business! Hank has clearly decided not to manage at all.

            1. AngryOctopus*

              Yes. His half-assed “I’m doing it right because you’re both mad about the results!!” is the most mealy-mouthed abdication of responsibility I can imagine.

            2. Sloanicota*

              Also, the more recent score should have been weighed much more highly. Why was a former supervisor who is no longer in charge of Tina given so much weight? Even if Tina was terrible, the boss should have been glad they’ve found a place to thrive and gone with OP’s evaluation at this point.

              1. STAT!*

                Exactly. Also why wasn’t Hank curious about the change in score from the old to the new supervisor? Did he not wonder for one short moment whether old supervisor had been doing a bad job at managing? (Or maybe he did but realised it would be too much like work to explore the question more!)

          2. Jolie*

            Even supposing that an employee could be 1/5 in 2022 and 5/5 in 2023, with the change in managers being purely coincidental, what does her performance in 2022 have anything to do with her appraisal in 2023?

          3. Irish Teacher.*

            And that she was a 1/5 employee but the manager can only think of two examples to back that up and included them, apparently, even as responses in areas they didn’t fit. And that she apparently did nothing about it at the time, but changed the marks to ones that merited a PIP two years later. If she really thought Tina needed to be on a PIP, why didn’t she deal with it at the time?

  7. Neosmom*

    Alison is spot-on, OP. Assist Tina. And take care of yourself. You both need to extract yourselves from this organization’s quicksand.

    1. Not that other person you didn't like*

      Yeah and go farther. OP, Connect her with your network. Talk her up to your industry contacts. Tell her if you were in her shoes you’d talk to a lawyer. And tell her this isn’t ok and she deserves and should expect so much better. I’m just so livid about this because this is her first professional experience. She doesn’t know how f-ed up this is and it could warp her norms and really hurt her career.

  8. NothingIsLittle*

    I don’t know your company’s structure, but it might be worth it to go to the people whose lives are most improved by Tina’s contributions, since if she leaves they’re the ones who will feel it. Maybe that VP? Whoever does your budget that’s save hundreds of man hours?

    1. learnedthehardway*

      Also, has the OP reached out to HR about this? If HR is halfway competent, they would launch an investigation into the entire situation.

      Sally should be reprimanded for trying to put an employee she doesn’t manage on a PIP and for judging the employee by distant past (minor) actions.

      Dave should be fired for falsifying reports.

      The VPs should be confronted with their lack of leadership, rewarding unethical behaviour, and should be warned to get their acts together.

          1. WantonSeedStitch*

            From the letter, it sounds like both LW and Sally have to participate in this review–that might be the practice in this workplace where someone’s work spans two different roles under two different managers during the course of the year. It sounds like they are only able to put in a single overall rating, but that they’re both able to enter comments.

          2. Ally McBeal*

            Agreed, that’s horrifying. Managed her 0/365 days but can still go into her current performance review and f— around without her current manager’s permission? That’s a massive oversight.

          3. Estrella the Starfish*

            Yes, if Tina’s performance under Sally warrented a PIP, why didn’t Sally put her on one at the time? That really should have rung alarm bells with Hank/Mike.

    2. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

      The ONLY possible play I can see here – and the odds of success are low in such a dysfunctional environment – is to remind people in power how much Tina has benefitted the company and that it would be bad if she quit. They have an example of what happened when someone else took over coordinating the prestigious report. Hint: it didn’t go awesome. Do they really want to lose her?

      1. NothingIsLittle*

        Honestly, any resolution that doesn’t involve at least two firings (Dave for falsifying mistakes, and Sally for apparently falsifying records) and immense horror from everyone outside of the clown posse is just going to be a Band-Aid on a bullet wound.

        I just hope contacting the right people can make it comfortable for Tina and the OP until they get new jobs, or can get them moved to a functional part of the company (if there is one).

  9. Snarkus Aurelius*

    This isn’t a “personality clash,” and that statement is about the weakest, most cowardly thing to say.

    I had a boss who refused to deal with an office bully who was sabotaging my work and hiding important documents from me. He said the same thing when he explained why he couldn’t get involved.

    When I left that job for that reason, he had the audacity to cite his devout Catholicism as a reason to beg for my forgiveness. I didn’t give it.

    Please leave this job ASAP and block contact with them. They’ll come crawling back for one or both of you.

    1. Hills to Die on*

      Been there – and for the same reason. This former boss acts like a weasel every single day of the week and absolves himself of his garbage behavior by hiding behind his Catholicism. BS.

    2. Nuke*

      Office bullies are the actual worst. I had one who was BFFs with the manager at the time and had access to the manager’s office, so she went in and read my files for my medical accommodations. Lots of us used manila folders from the office to keep track of papers, and wrote our names on them. She found mine one day and wrote “PROPERTY OF (COMPANY)” all over it. Multiple times. Pure high school stuff, and this woman was a mother with multiple children!

      Nothing was ever done and I was cornered by the assistant manager and told, and I quote, “I wouldn’t go to the union over this.”

      Ah, the joys of being the youngest person at my first full-time job!

      1. Zombeyonce*

        If someone says you shouldn’t go to the union about something, that’s usually the first confirmation that you should definitely talk to your union.

    3. darsynia*

      Thank you for refusing forgiveness. Religion is used as a knife far too often in those situations and it’s possible to be both an adult and someone who doesn’t forgive.

      1. Anon Catholic at Work*

        As a devout Catholic, I can say that the only way I can be absolved of my sins is to be truly sorry and to atone. Confession doesn’t take away any of the consequences of my actions and no one that I wrong is under any obligation to forgive me the way God will (if I am truly repentant and take action to avoid sinning the same way in the future; if I’m not repentant and keep doing wrong, I have to answer to God for that).

    4. Pita Chips*

      I’m so sorry that happened to you. I used to be Catholic and I remember something about atoning, which I’m betting your boss didn’t do.

      I heartily agree that LW nad Tina should GTFO

      1. Snarkus Aurelius*

        Oh my! Thank you for putting words to my feelings! I’m not Catholic so I didn’t know that part, but yes!

        that boss let the bullying happen and he was only sorry when I walked out the door. visibly upset. All he did was apologize and then ask for forgiveness and it was so weird because I don’t feel like he did anything before or after to address the problem. He just said he was sorry as if that’s a blank check for everything to be okay. He was so disingenuous.

        I don’t know why my forgiveness was so important to him when he didn’t do anything to deserve it

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          He had to face what a terrible job he did and didn’t want to (plus real world consequences like his bosses going “wait, what happened here on your watch?”)

          You forgiving him means, in his mind, that what he did wasn’t a big deal and he shouldn’t have to feel bad.

    5. Yorick*

      This is a thing men do when there are interpersonal issues involving women. Usually when it’s between 2 women, but I’m not super surprised he’d still see it as a personality clash when a man is trying to undermine a woman.

    6. 2024*

      Back in my church employee days… I had a severe issue with my co worker, another admin assistant. I tried to get help when I saw that she simply would not treat me with any kind of professionalism and politeness. I never did know why. But the mgr shrugged it off as a personality clash and wrote us both up. I ended up having a mental break with reality; the church paid for my therapy.

    7. Nea*

      They’ve already come crawling back to Tina about that report and still haven’t taken the hint that they need her.

    8. Curious*

      I don’t understand. He acknowledged he acted badly, but Catholicism says he has to ask for forgiveness?

      I fully respect and understand if you didn’t ask for the logic behind this explanation, but if he provided one I am curious.

      1. Nea*

        I don’t know how it works in Catholicism, but in evangelical world the request for forgiveness is basically phrased “Jesus has forgiven my sins, so you should too. Why are you crossing the will of Jesus?”

      2. Snarkus Aurelius*

        That’s it. I already knew he was about Catholic so when he cited it to me I wasn’t surprised. it was a long time ago but I think he said something like because he made a mistake and felt really bad about how upset I was, he had to ask for my forgiveness so we could move forward. I didn’t understand the request because he was asking me to feel something that I didn’t feel. I didn’t want to “move forward” like nothing happened because that wasn’t true.

        his request for forgiveness seemed very transactional and not based on anything of substance.

      3. STAT!*

        As a former Catholic … if he wanted absolution for his sins, he had to go to a priest in confession and confess them. (As an aside I’m not quite sure what kind of religious sin his managerial failures would be classified as. Anyway.) The priest might not grant absolution until he had done something to atone, though I guess this kind of conditional absolution only occurs for biggies like murder. (At high school religious class a priest told us he wouldn’t give someone absolution for murder unless that person turned themselves into the police.) Anyway, absolution is different from forgiveness. You can get absolution and still feel guilty about what you did. Which is good, because it might make you act better in future.

        TLDR: only a priest can grant a practising Catholic religious forgiveness for their sins, not the victim of the bad action. As a “devout Catholic” the manager should have known this.

  10. Chidi has a stomach ache*

    We have not one, but four candidates for Worst Boss of the Year in this letter (Sally, Jen, Mike, and Hank).

  11. Sunflower*

    Tina *needs* to leave. Like yesterday. The OP need to encourage Tina to leave for better. And so does the OP.

    This company can keep the bad rubbish and hopefully they will all go down.

    1. Cinn*

      Agreed, the minute Dave wasn’t disciplined for deliberate sabotage she should’ve given her notice and gone. (That’s assuming she wasn’t already considering it after the reference with her performance review.) Having said that, since this is her first job out of uni I can see her being worried about references and a gap in her CV if she leaves without a job lined up…

      1. I Have RBF*

        Yeah, she needs to find a new job, and then, on her last day, tell them that she’s leaving due to Dave still being employed after he falsified data to frame her.

  12. bamcheeks*

    yeah, this is a mess. The only logical possibilities I can see here are:

    1. the company is a toxic mess that hates Tina for an irrational reason (she’s female? she’s too young to be this good? she was too gauche and enthusiastic when she first started and nobody will forgive her?), and LW should get out

    2. there is some legitimate problem with Tina’s approach which LW isn’t seeing because they think Tina is so great, but the company is a toxic mess and none of the senior managers are willing to have a frank conversation with LW about what the problem is, and LW should get out.

    Either way, this sounds like a terrible place to be.

    That said, LW, do you have HR? Escalating things up the food chain is one say to approach this, but you have formal review processes, bonus processes etc, which makes me wonder why you don’t have an HR function in place to mediate and come up with a more objective and well-founded solution than Mike’s “cut the baby in half and make everyone unhappy” plan.

    1. Czhorat*

      My guess based on the “bad approach” examples from two years ago is that Tina came in as a young, talented hotshot and burned some bridges by not knowing how to soften objectively good suggestions to avoid personality clashes. Then by the time she settled down everyone had already decided they hated her and aren’t willing to adjust their perception to her adjusted behavior (after all, there don’t seem to be any examples within the last calendar year).

      1. Stay-at-Homesteader*

        Yeah I had some of the same questions – this makes the most sense. Having had some coworkers who weren’t great but had their managers thinking they were rockstars, my knee jerk reaction here was a bit of skepticism. But OP seems to have concrete examples to back everything up, so I’m inclined to believe that she has a clear-eyed perspective on this.

        1. Czhorat*

          My first thought from the title was “rockstar who can do anything but get along with their co-workers”, but the blatancy of some of the attacks (review from 5/5 to 1/5 with the SAME comment pasted on every metric; the literal falsification of records as an act of sabotage) put me very firmly on LW and Tina’s side.

          1. Enai*

            Yes, even if the rockstar gets on everyone’s last nerve because they reached BEC status with her before she learned to behave nicer, everyone else still needs to behave professionally. I mean, it doesn’t matter if Tina sets my teeth on edge whenever she enters the room, what matters is if she gets the job done! And according to OP she does. Spectacularly well, in fact. If my actual problem is that her performance makes me insecure, I’m going to have to cope. Kindergarten was decades ago.

            With this behaviour of the other managers and Tina’s peers, Tina would have to actually do something heinous for me to be on their side.

            1. 2e*

              I’m not sure that there’s anything here to suggest that Tina “learned to behave nicer.” It sounds like the correction had more to do with going beyond her scope than with being unpleasant or confrontational. (You might be praised for going beyond the basic scope of work in a college seminar, but you wouldn’t be praised for being hostile!)

              Emphasis on “nice” is very strongly gendered.

                1. Czhorat*

                  Yeah. Tina was behaving better because there were examples of her overstepping from two years ago and none from this year.

                  That’s positive, and completely normal adjustment from school to the workplace

        2. bamcheeks*

          I think she does too, BUT if I’m literally the only person who takes a particularly point of view, I always try and work through the “what if I’m wrong / not seeing something” to see whether it changes what I should do. In this case, even if Tina is not actually a genius and the star performer that LW thinks she is, it’s still the case that the other managers and senior managers have decided to support and/or turn a blind eye to bullying and straight-up sabotage. There *could* be legit issues with Tina’s communication skills or whatever, and the best advice would still be, “your company is awful, make plans to leave”.

          1. MsM*

            And even if OP and Tina were entirely on the wrong side of this conflict, the fact the conflict exists really can’t go unaddressed.

          2. Jolie*

            Yeah, exactly. If we imagine , as a thought experiment, that Tina were, once upon a time, dunno, the person who made the 9/11 cruel joke in a meeting, in front of a grieving family member – surely the answer still isn’t to deal with it by outright sabotage.

          3. MigraineMonth*

            Exactly. There is no excuse for how everyone has been treating Tina, even if she were in fact a terrible employee. Sabotaging someone’s work? Bringing up minor issues from more than a year ago? None of this is remotely okay.

      2. Ama*

        Yeah although it isn’t as bad at my employer — I’ve had direct reports come in and make some big noticeable blunder early and never be able to get away from the first impression they gave the senior staff.

        Dave also seems to be really really manipulative and it seems like no one else at the company sees it because they aren’t as invested in Tina’s reputation/progress as OP is.

      3. Jessica*

        Or Tina was just young, talented, and female.

        (And yes, it’s not just men who have internalized misogyny that causes them to resent young women who they can’t feel superior to.)

        What’s “confidence” in a bright young man often gets classified as “arrogance” and “an attitude problem” in a bright young woman. What is “initiative” for him is not knowing her place for her.

        You can be a f***ing angel and if you succeed too much, too young, you will get victim-blamed for people’s misogyny and jealousy, as is happening here.

        There is nothing Tina could have done that warrants a campaign to falsify her work, put her on a PIP without her manager’s involvement, and engage in this sort of coordinated, sustained harassment and bullying.


    2. Observer*

      there is some legitimate problem with Tina’s approach which LW isn’t seeing because they think Tina is so great, but the company is a toxic mess and none of the senior managers are willing to have a frank conversation with LW about what the problem is,

      This is highly unlikely, in any case. It *certainly* would not explain why a calculated sabotage attempt would be *rewarded*.

      1. NothingIsLittle*

        If Tina hadn’t caught someone sabotaging her work and OP hadn’t claimed the only legitimate claims were 15 months old, I might be more inclined to be it. For what its worth, I don’t think the situation as described could be caused by Tina’s work. If there was a legitimate problem, why lie?

        Maybe there is a personality clash contributing to the hate, but this sort of coordinated attack is so far out of line I have difficulty believing anyone involved has a speck of good judgement.

        1. Enai*

          “If there was a legitimate problem, why lie?”

          Yes, exactly! If Tina stole all the silver spoons, Dave wouldn’t need to sabotage her report to ruin her reputation. Conclusion: what she _has_ done wrong, if anything, was in fact _less bad_ than a mistake in an important report. Dave on the other hand resorted to lying and sabotage to get ahead. And everyone else, except OP, just shrugs and goes “Silly Dave, such a rascal!”

          1. goddessoftransitory*

            Also, what the hell else is Dave covering up, with his own work, if he’s this willing to destroy a talented colleague who might just unearth some skeletons?

            I assume Dave knew the odds were on his side when he did this, company culture wise, because otherwise that was a major risk to take with his own career. But If he was willing to do so, it makes me wonder what else he’s been willing to do in the past and how vulnerable the company might be in ways they don’t know about.

    3. Velociraptor Attack*

      I have a member of my team who is legitimately great at their job and presents very well to me. That said, I’ve gotten more than one comment from other people who work closely with them that they have some pretty significant attitude problems. This could read as just a personality issue but because it’s been multiple people, I’m keeping a much closer eye on things.

      That said, with the big issues being from 2022, I can easily imagine that maybe there was a legitimate issue early on and now it’s kind of soured the well. On top of that, because it was seemingly before OP managed Tina (based on Sally having input on Tina’s performance review), they’re unaware of the history and maybe the others are lashing out because they don’t think it’s “fair” that OP is out calling a Tina a genius when they’re had previous issues.

      Obviously, none of that excuses how everyone is acting.

      1. learnedthehardway*

        I’m going with Tina is A) female and B) has opinions and C) needed to learn how to deliver said opinions (AND has done so), but other people can’t let it go that she was a female with opinions who stated them.

        So, misogyny and sexism are very likely part and parcel of the issues here.

      2. 2e*

        But—if it was a legitimate issue in 2022, why wasn’t it raised then?

        That’s a red flag. They’re sitting on criticism until it serves them to pull it out. (Very probably waiting until Tina has completed some critical tasks/projects, so they can extract value from her *and* have the pleasure of making her miserable.)

        1. GreyjoyGardens*

          Also you’d think they’d be over it by now, I mean, it was two years ago! You don’t just stay BEC about someone without ruminating on it endlessly. And if Dave and Sally and Co. spent two *years* playing “let’s complain about Tina” then there’s something wrong with them and the company.

      3. JustaTech*

        I’ve had a coworker who was always super respectful to his manager/ superiors in the work hierarchy, but also could be a real pain to work with if you were a peer or had a lesser title than him. (Basically, if you didn’t have a PhD or weren’t his boss, he would treat you like the lab flunky, even if you were really more of a peer.)

        The thing was, he did it right in front of everyone, so it was no secret that Dr New Doctorate liked to order around the Research Associates and skip out on his part of lab prep/ clean up.
        But even being on the receiving end of that distain I would never have wanted him to get a poor rating (1/5 at my company means “fired”) – I wanted his boss to explain that having a PhD didn’t get him out of cleaning up after his experiments (which his boss did!).
        So I would 100% agree with your approach, VA.

      4. Irish Teacher.*

        Given that the manager who is so down on Tina that she gives her a 1/5 can only think of two examples and those from a year ago as well as the fact that the manager apparently didn’t enact any consequences at the time makes me highly doubtful there are big issues.

        If there were, then a) why not deal with them at the time? and b) why not give more detail now rather than repeating the same paragraph over and over again, with no detail and sounding more like “but I just don’t like her” rather than as if there were real issues?

        If there were real issues, then the previous manager is both playing them down while simultaneously so obsessed with them that she sabotages somebody else’s performance review for Tina and she both didn’t act at the time yet felt so strongly about them that she is acting on them when she has no business doing so.

        None of that makes very good sense, so my guess is that Tina made some minor missteps when she was new and for whatever reason, the previous manager used them to defend herself when she got caught out trying to basically fake that the LW gave Tina a bad review.

        1. Irish Teacher.*

          Your situation sounds very different as I’m guess the coworkers raising the issues didn’t fail to mention them but instead go behind your back and change your performance review and then when you called them out on it, reply with “well, the employee isn’t perfect” and then bring up some fairly minor issues from a year before and continue to repeat those two issues whenever you ask anything about the employee and insist those two issues alone make the employee worthy of a PIP even though they are a year ago, they made no mention of them at the time and they sound fairly minor to you.

  13. FrogEngineer*

    “I just know Tina is going to quit and I’ve failed her as a manager.”

    The first is a maybe, the second is not true. It sounds like you did everything you could despite being undermined at every turn. That is not your fault.

          1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

            Yep. The idea of a good compromise is everyone is comfortable with it. Not if everyone is unhappy its good. No if everyone is unhappy, you failed at reaching a solution.

          2. Estrella the Starfish*

            And just the fact that Mike’s ‘solution’ was a compromise. One person you manage gave their managee a score of 1, the other person you manage gave a 5. Are you not even slightly curious at that massive discrepancy? Not inclined to take 10 minutes to look into it?

  14. VintageLydia*

    This situation makes me livid for especially Tina but you as well. Your workplace is full of bees and you both should be make an exit.

    1. Juicebox Hero*

      Either that or we get an update letter and hear that Tina got a sweet new job at a good company thanks to a glowing reference from LW. Meanwhile, LW also found a great new position. They both resigned in cod on the spot with no notice and strutted out of the building as fireworks went off and a boombox blasted “Fight Song”.

      AAM fanfiction is so much better than real life sometimes.

      1. nora*

        In my head Tina and LW walked off the job together in the middle of the company’s Giant Annual Gala, preferably after jointly delivering a keynote speech for the ages, and now run a wildly popular used bookstore/tea shop/Boston terrier rescue.

        1. Mina*

          I admit I think about the crock-pot under desk person FAR more than is reasonable. I wonder if that’s on there. I should go look.

  15. Mina*

    You should be job searching. Tina knows this isn’t the workplace for her, already. And for whatever reason, if neither you or her have the capital to change minds, it’s probably also not the place for you.

    But also, this feels like there’s missing information. For 3 people (Jen, Dave, Sally) to band together on this, is there some truth to the abrasiveness/bossiness that could be genuine feedback? Or are they worried they’ll be skipped for promotions? That her AI knowledge will make their roles obsolete? Is Dave someone’s nephew? There’s a missing reason here.

    Obviously even if there’s truth to the feedback on her personality and collaboration, that wouldn’t justify the poor evaluation (and Tina should have pushed back on being given 3s in every category with the only critical notes being about her personality, not about her work product).

    But you should get out, they’ve shown they’re not reasonable and they’re not doing anything to hide it. That, and, you should be documenting difference in treatment between male and female analysts, along with her accomplishments/cost savings if anyone tries to push back.

    1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

      Tina appears to be female, so bossiness and abrasiveness could be just assertiveness. After all no one shuts down Dave for literally talking over Tina. Yes, there are women involved but women can be even harder on up and coming women than they are on men.

      1. Mina*

        It seems very likely that gender dynamics are at play here, which is why I mentioned that, and why I didn’t disregard the gendered dynamics just because Jen and Sally both appear to be women as well.

        And yes, oftentimes women (Young & BIPOC women in particular) can be assertive but read as abrasiveness. I work with a lot of young women and have this conversation with nearly all of them, many are assertive, some are abrasive. I trust myself to know the difference and coach on individual situations. I don’t think it’s out of the question that Tina has crossed the line before. I also don’t think it’s out of the question that she hasn’t, it just something that we don’t know about the situation.

        1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

          But you also pay attention if the person learned from it. Which Tina appears to have. Their only examples of alleged abrasiveness are 15 months old. They can’t even come up with recent examples.

      2. Pizza Rat*

        as someone who has been dinged for being “abrasive,” yeah. That word is almost always used to target women. In men, it’s being confident and assertive and is lauded.

        If Dave is constantly talking over Tina, I don’t blame her for being more assertive.

    2. Observer*

      For 3 people (Jen, Dave, Sally) to band together on this, is there some truth to the abrasiveness/bossiness that could be genuine feedback?

      Why would you even ask that? Given the rest of what is going on, it’s quite obvious that this is not about anything that Tina has gone wrong. And it’s pretty disheartening that anyone would even go there.

      To be clear here: You are asking if maybe she’s actually “abrasive and bossy” enough to justify *falsifying reports* and *lying about her*. Really?!?!?

      1. Mina*

        No, that’s not what I said or what I asked. I actually pretty clearly state that the response isn’t justified.

        But yeah, I don’t think it’s entirely out of the question that some of the feedback (feedback, not the lies or falsifying of reports, the direct feedback) is grounded in truth. I think it’s WILD that a performance eval was overwritten with just that feedback, in presumably unrelated categories. But I think it’s worth asking the question, you may notice I go on to give several other potential reasons for 3 people banding together, and that is just one in a series.

      2. Bunny Lake Is Found*

        If Tina IS abrasive and bossy, I think we would be looking at a different letter. We would be looking at something closer to “Why does no one want to work with my rockstar? Why is she frozen out?” Difficult persons typically just get the cold shoulder. Even if she is bossy and abrasive, something else is seriously going on for there to be active sabotage.

      3. HR Friend*

        You’ve picked out one line of an entire comment which nicely and reasonably asks if there’s something happening that might cause an entire team to torpedo a high performer. The ?!?!? outrage is so obnoxious.

    3. Sovreignry*

      It seems that there was some truth to the abrasiveness/bossiness 15 months ago. There’s no reason for that to still be coming up if Tina truly has changed, and it seems that she has changed, given that none of these unserious people can come up with an example sooner than 15 months ago.

      1. My Reasons Are 3-Fold*

        Seriously. Even the people who seem to hate her couldn’t provide recent examples. This whole situation is bonker balls.

      2. Lis*

        One has to ask were any of the criticisms in the last Performance Evaluation? In which case they should have been part of an overall improvement plan and would presumably have to have examples of how she had improved or not in this review period? If they were missing from the previous one how can they be brought up now?
        Is it possible that the previous manager and the others are jealous of the OP and attempting to scupper OP by getting rid of someone who has bloomed under OPs management? A way to hurt both OP and Tina?

    4. exhausted*

      it could literally be that Tina was speaking from expertise and they’re punishing her for not being subservient to tenure and position. from the information in the letter Tina isn’t just Sop’s star performer but the entire company. she’s training the other analysts and rendered the data from 3 failed companies usable in a week. it is absolutely plausible that she is resented by the others for being a competent young woman and not that she actually spoke “out of turn” or “abrasively”. if anything it sounds like Tina is obviously under leveled at this company and they’re punishing her for their inability to categorize her based on what she brings to the table

      1. Bird names*

        Honestly, this seems very plausible unfortunately. May she and OP soar somewhere else since their skills or integrity are not valued at this company.

      2. AKchic*

        That’s my thought. Dave doesn’t like her because she’s both new, young and massively outshines him, whereas the female management cohort doesn’t like her because she’s out leveling them as a young, new employee (and therefore a risk to their positions).

        None of them want to utilize her properly, they want her to “know her place” so to speak, and are willing to play these ridiculous games and sabotage her to do so. Both of them need to get out.

    5. Kate*

      The unanimity of the baffling response and willingness to cover each other’s asses made me think there’s some bias going on here and that Tina is part of a minority group in a way that short-circuits everyone’s brains when combined with “highly competent and assertive.”

      1. Jolie*

        At this point, I’m tongue in cheek picturing that she may be a lesbian attracted to mature women, who had torrid affairs with the mothers of Dave, Jen, Mike and Phil.

        1. 2e*

          I know that this is a joke, but—ugh.

          Simply *being identifiable* as a lesbian can attract this kind of vitriol. I don’t think it’s funny to suggest that Tina is secretly some kind of hypersexual seductress. (That’s a whole queer stereotype on its own…)

      2. Aerin*

        That was my thought. Person of color, visibly queer, and/or non-Christian, I would bet actual money.

    6. Allonge*

      Generally I like to ask the question ‘is there any truth hidden behind all the bullshit?’ but in this particular case I would not suggest for OP to do this, mostly because it’s too late.

      The response was so disproportionate that anything from OP at this stage would just reinforce that unreasonable message.

      1. HR Friend*

        Yeah, this. Is there something going on that’s not evident in LW’s account, or is there some grain of truth in the performance feedback? Probably. But it’s not worth addressing because Tina/LW’s relationships with this team and the company are not recoverable. There’s nothing for either of them to do but to move on.

    7. DameB*

      Missing Stair people are generally very very very good at getting people in power on their side. It’s how they continue to abuse those around them. Dave is CLEARLY a Missing Stair.

      1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

        Dave is a whole missing staircase. Its one thing to get people on your side in a he said she said situation. He went in and changed a report to make someone look bad and got caught. He should have been immediately terminated.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          Dave is one of those creepy old staircases to nowhere that people spot in the Northeastern woods.

    8. Magdalena*

      Are you suggesting that if someone is bullied by three people then they must have earned it somehow?
      We have evidence of all three of these behaving inappropriately (falsifying documents to get a co-worker in trouble, refusing to discipline an employee who lied and falsified documents to get another employee in trouble, refusing to investigate a documented ethics violation) and yet you’re saying there must be something the victim of workplace bullying is doing to deserve this.
      That’s what this argument boils down to.

      1. Punk*

        An explanation of a triggering event isn’t a justification, and it’s in bad faith to assume Mina’s post was malicious. How can you figure out what’s going on if you shut down avenues of inquiry?

        I can hold two ideas in my head at once. It’s within the realm of possibility that Tina overstepped the boundaries of her role AND that she didn’t deserve to be treated poorly because of it.

      2. AQ*

        Couldn’t agree more. This is collusion, sabotage on several people to get Tina fired and yet some are putting blame on Tina. Even if she were terrible, you don’t manufacture issues.

      3. Mina*

        That’s not at all what I’m suggesting at all and is a terrible and unfair characterization of my comment.

        What I said was that some of the feedback Tina received **may** have been grounded in the truth. Then I suggested several other alternatives that may be the case. No where does that say, or imply, that Tina deserved it, and it’s absolutely not what my comment boils down to. In fact, I say quite clearly that the workplace response is inappropriate on the EVALUATION level. I didn’t say anything about the falsifying of documents because that’s so far beyond the line that it’s really not worth discussing, because the only response to that is to GTFO, which is what I suggested both LW and Tina do.

    9. Irish Teacher.*

      If she were abrasive and bossy, then I bet the manager who seems to dislike her would have put her on a PIP/given her a low performance review at the time and that she would be able to come up with more than two examples to back it up.

      I have no idea what is going on here; it sounds bizarre, but I very much doubt the truth is that “Tina is actually worse than Sally made her sound.” Because honestly? Sally’s complaints sound like complaints of a good employee who made a few missteps in her first job and who should perhaps have gotten a 4/5 instead of a 5/5 in 2022, but who likely deserves the 5 now.

    1. Estrella the Starfish*

      Lets all chip in! And Tina sounds like she knows her stuff, could be a solid investment.

  16. AnonInCanada*

    What in the name of (deity) is wrong with this company? Both Dave and Jen should’ve been shown the door long ago, and quite frankly, I’d investigate Dave further. If he’d stoop so low as to falsify Tina’s report to sabotage her reputation, imagine who else he may have given the shaft for his own gain? Depending on what is ultimately found, Dave could see prison time for these actions. Jen covering Dave’s tracks makes her an accessory, and should be given equal punishment as well.

    I’m sorry OP is going through this. Maybe Tina and OP can find a way out of this crazy-town and be stars for another company. One that has a modicum of integrity!

    1. Ex-prof*

      Also the falsifying of the report in and of itself should’ve been the last straw in any functioning organization.

  17. Pastor Petty Labelle*

    Dave is not the real problem here. The managers who enable and even support his behavior are. That is not going to change. Their attitude of well I can’t get involved and let’s all compromise tells you everything you need to know how things are going to go in the future, not just with Tina but with any issue that arises.

    Yeah Tina is going to leave. I would too. To do stellar work and then have it all undermined by one person is beyond demoralizing. Then to have the managers support the known liar would be the last straw.

    OP you have not failed Tina. You went to bat every single time just like a good manager should. You even tried to get Dave to back off. Your bosses have failed you. You need to follow Tina out the door. If you feel up to it, in your exit interview you can explain in detail exactly why you are leaving.

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      When someone engages in behavior that should clearly get them fired, and they are not fired, the further details are never good.

      Like the construction manager in Canada who would set off explosions to freak out employees, and poop on them from above. At the eventual lawsuit there was a whole pile of these, and a whole pile of management saying that that was just how Joe was and they didn’t see why no one could take a joke, Joe was a funny guy.

        1. darsynia*

          I’m a biggggg fan of the Chemical Safety Board videos on YouTube and all I can do is imagine that measured, high quality video they’d make about a disaster at that workplace (and giggle in horror).

    2. Allonge*

      Eh, Dave is a big enough problem. I totally agree that there are larger ones, but he is very much a problem on his own.

      1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

        Except but for the managers enabling him, he wouldn’t be a problem. Say Dave quits, wins the lottery, whatever and is no longer there. The managers are still going to be. Which will allow the next Dave to flourish. Whereas if just ONE manager here were changed, Dave would not be a problem, nor would there be future problems. Dave exists because the managers allow it.

        1. Allonge*

          Ok, but – the same is true for the managers, if they were suddenly not there, they stop being a problem. And if Dave was not acting like this, they would not have anyone to back up.

          I do agree that management is a bigger problem overall, but I don’t like this ‘everything is always the managers’ fault’ philosophy, when Dave is evidently a problem all on his own.

    3. el l*

      Sometimes in your career, you should play the individual rather than the company. This is one of them.

      Give Tina a glowing reference, and hope someday you can work with her again (even if that means she’s on the opposite side’s negotiating team).

      And get out. You’ve seen such a persistent pattern of dysfunction – you can be sure it’ll be your turn sometime soon.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        It already is. They’re using their abuse of Tina as a monkey’s paw to undermine the OP’s ability to do their own job.

  18. Velawciraptor*

    I don’t know that the VP’s assessment that nothing discriminatory has happened is correct. Dave’s behavior reads to me as a man who is threatened by a successful woman. I doubt that he’d be sabotaging a male peer who was performing at Tina’s level.

    Sally’s comments in the eval that Tina is “bossy, pushy, abrasive, and arrogant” also come across to me as gendered criticism. Again, I doubt she’d use such language for male analysts performing at Tina’s level.

    I’d honestly go back to people with actual authority and point out that this isn’t merely personality based, but gender based, as Tina isn’t performing gender roles as Dave and Sally expect and has been sabotaged and undermined for it. This very much reads as sex based attacks on Tina to me, and the company should be put on notice that they’re opening themselves up to potential liability by permitting it to persist unchecked.

    1. Yup*

      This. And lest someone say not everyone pushing back is a man, the patriarchy rewards women managers who act like male managers.

    2. RCB*

      This was exactly my thought too! It absolutely sounds like her gender is partly/fully to blame for the way she is being treated and I think approaching this from a “Tina is going to have a rock solid case to sue us” may be what gets the attention of management, though at this point it’s best to go as high in the organization as possible to get this heard, because there is a lot of rot going on in the immediate vicinity of this team.

    3. HugeTractsofLand*

      Yeah, I also read Dave’s actions as a threatened man trying to take down a rising star, and feeling especially emboldened to do so because she’s female. The waters are muddied here because Dave clearly has something against Tina personally and Dave’s boss is a woman, but if OP can notice a difference in how Dave treats women- maybe if another new younger woman joins the staff?- that would help their argument.

    4. Nameless*

      Those particular comments made me wonder if Tina is perhaps not white, because rebranding assertiveness as aggressiveness is a weapon often wielded against Black women.

    5. B*

      Yes, there is at least enough here for a competent lawyer to make their lives difficult. If these folks don’t care enough about “doing the right thing” or “retaining good employees” or “valuing effective work,” maybe they will care about “not getting called sexists in legal filings” or “not getting deposed.”

    6. Boof*

      . Even though It sounds like there were some female, presenting managers involved, the actual beef between Dave and Tina scream sexism. And if the company’s bar for doing anything is “illegal” I think case should be made for it (hr complaint???) in a last ditch effort to stop this madness.

  19. OhNoYouDidn’t*

    This is a total $h!+ show. If I was watching this in a movie, I’d be shaking my head, thinking how unrealistic it is, and how the writers have gone too far. OP, get out now and run as fast as you can!

  20. L-squared*

    Look, I know we are supposed to take LW at their word. And I know this won’t be popular. But something makes me think that maybe OP is blind to some of Tina’s flaws. Like, you see that she is great at certain things, but if this many people are supposedly out to get her, there must be something else going on here. If this was one person, I could see it. But the sheer amount of people involved in this, including a former manager, just seems too much. And even higher ups see this as just a personality conflict.

    I’ve worked with people who are great at their jobs, but horrible to work with. And their managers would probably describe them as you describe Tina, while everyone else they worked with couldn’t stand them. I’m wondering if that is Tina, and you just aren’t seeing it. Or maybe for you, since she makes your job easier, you find her great to work with. Have you spoken wiht any of her other coworkers?

    But at some point, when it seems like almost everyone else has an axe to grind, there is probably something more going on.

    None of that makes the behavior ok, but it is something to consider.

    1. Observer*

      But at some point, when it seems like almost everyone else has an axe to grind, there is probably something more going on.

      Yes, but the “something” is almost certainly NOT something wrong with Tina. Because if that were the case there would be more “there” there than complaints that are over a year old. And *falsifying reports* and *lying about someone* would get punished, NOT *rewarded*.

      1. Sovreignry*

        Precisely! The commenters saying that Tina is truly at fault don’t seem to understand that not a single one of these people have an example from later than the mid-term elections.

        1. Czhorat*

          Even if they did, falsifying the report is SO far over the line that it would be inexcusable even if Tina WAS the most toxic and unpleasant coworker in the world.

          1. Sovreignry*

            Yes! Yes! A thousand times yes! If Tina really is as toxic and abrasiveness as some of these commenters bafflingly assume she is, you don’t need to literally falsify a report to do so.

      2. Irish Teacher.*

        And more than two examples that it sounds like they repeat over and over again. And the manager who dislikes her would presumably have acted on them at the time.

        And the higher ups are definitely wrong about it being “just a personality conflict.” The manager who changed the performance review the LW wrote should have been disciplined even if what she wrote was accurate as should Dave. That is bullying even if Tina has problems and given that the higher ups can’t see that Dave’s behaviour and possibly the previous manager’s are firing offences, I wouldn’t trust their assessment of anything else.

        Yeah, under normal circumstances, “my employee is a rockstar, but her previous manager and others all think she is useless” would make me question “is she really such a rockstar?” but in this case, a) the people questioning it are behaving so utterly bizarrely that their judgement is really questionable and b) they are behaving in ways they wouldn’t have to if they had genuine grievances. They are behaving exactly as people do when they are at BEC level with somebody but that person just won’t bloody make a mistake that would allow them to legitimately criticise them so they are forced to sound more and more ridiculous.

        I do suspect there is something more going on, but I suspect it is more likely to be something like there is something dodgy going on at the company and they fear Tina will find out because she is doing her job too well and asking questions or they have a nice thing going where they all do the bare minimum and have the higher ups convinced that is all that can be done but Tina is working hard and they are afraid the bosses are going to start asking, “hey, if 10 widgets is the most anybody can make in a week, how come Tina makes an average of 15?” Or that Tina belongs to a minority group that they are prejudiced against. Or heck, she has some political or religious opinion they find abhorrent.

        In another post, we saw somebody treated appallingly because they gave the “wrong” answer (ie, the opposite one to their coworkers’) in a thought experiment. Numerous people also ganged up on that employee, simply because they disliked her answer to something that couldn’t even happen in reality.

        I suspect the “something more” is somehow related to the fact that this is clearly a group of very unprofessional and toxic people.

    2. birb*

      If this were true, they would have objective, RECENT criticisms and documentation. Also, why on earth would he need to sabotage her if it were true? Maybe examine why you feel the need to defend those abusing their power?

    3. Fluffy Fish*

      Nope nope nope.

      1. The culprits have clearly stated that there is nothing recent they can point to as being a problem.

      2. They are defending and rewarding someone who has been caught in egregious lies multiple times.

      The devil doesn’t need an advocate.

    4. Spencer Hastings*

      I was thinking the same thing when I started to read the letter, but these people have gone so far into cartoon villain territory (changing Tina’s performance review after the LW submitted it, putting a mistake in a report on purpose, etc.) that it’s hard to believe that they could have a point. If they did have a point, they could have raised it without all this ridiculousness.

      1. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

        Same. Every person has their own perspective, so I was alert to the possibility that the LW might be missing something. But the basic facts that they have no examples of anything bad Tina did in the last 15 months, that there’s active sabotage happening, that the saboteur got exactly what he wanted, and nobody in management aside from the LW has made any effort to investigate anything is pretty strong evidence that Tina isn’t the problem. As many commenters have said, if Tina was so awful, they wouldn’t need to sabotage her and bring up old issues.

        Even if Tina isn’t easy to get along with, that wouldn’t be an excuse for people to be awful to her. Part of any job is being professional and a basic amount of nice to the people we work with.

    5. Falling Diphthong*

      I suspect that we have a conglomeration of “Do I admit I was wrong? Or do I double-down until OP is exhausted and admits I must be right?”

      Due to the lack of recent examples, and to Dave not being instantly fired for the faked report. In a normally functioning workplace, the latter doesn’t get laughed off with “Heh heh, yeah, we find the lowest ranked person in the department abrasive, so it’s important to fake bad work that we can try to blame on them. Heh heh.”

    6. Typing All The Time*

      It’s possible but for a colleague to purposely create errors in Tina’s work, which also impacts their employer, is not okay. I feel like this opposition team is pulling up any concrete examples they can think of to portray her in a bad light.

    7. Sunflower*

      Even if Tina is a horrible person, is that a reason to falsify documents? That’s a crime in my book. At least a firing offence. You think Dave would’ve gotten away with it if the target was anyone other than Tina?
      Even if you don’t like someone, what they are doing is worse than Tina’s supposed “bad personality.”

    8. kiki*

      I understand where you are coming from and it is worth double-checking that there’s something OP missed, but none of these people taking issue with Tina have been able to bring forth any recent, legitimate piece of criticism about Tina. Even when discussing soft-skill issues, the most recent issue anyone could raise is from two years ago. And LW has observed instances more recently that Dave tried to complain about and saw that he was misrepresenting them to her.

      I feel like something about Tina (maybe her gender, maybe that she’s young and especially bright, or something else) is threatening to Dave and co. It seems like they’ve latched onto Tina’s bad first impression and are determined to prove themselves right about her by finding a way to push her out. I think it might be threatening to these people’s egos to realize that even if Tina came in a bit too strong, she was actually probably right about a lot of those things (though I understand presenting things in the right way is part of anyone’s job).

      1. Enai*

        Competence can be very threatening to people who have to suddenly acknowledge their mediocrity, even if only to themselves.

    9. Bunny Lake Is Found*

      Let’s assume you are right that there is something about Tina that the letter didn’t include, but that contextualizes the actions of Dave, Jen, and Sally.

      What could Tina possibly have done or be doing that makes this level of bad behavior from so many people make any sort of sense? I’m legitimately asking because even if everyone hates Tina, that doesn’t explain so many people going out of their way to try and make her fail.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        Alison asked! “Did Tina murder all their children?” If Tina was the missing stair the rest of this Phantom Staircase insists she is, they should be able to produce examples that aren’t “two years ago she was too pushy in a meeting.”

        1. Jolie*

          The more I think about it the more I suspect something along the lines of: uncovered massive amounts of incompetence /faffing about instead of working/possibly something more sinister? That either of Dave/Sally /Jen were engaged in.

          And/or developing better automation may replace Dave/Sally /Jen’s jobs? Or fundamentally change the way they would work? Or at least make it significantly harder for them to faff about instead of actually working?

    10. Uranus Wars*

      I had this same thought all the way up until the proof of a falsified report being explained away with no disciplinary action. I do think what you are saying can be true in some work places. I do not think that is happening here.

    11. gmg22*

      I would agree that the question of LW’s possible bias in favor of Tina would be worth consideration if the examples of colleagues’ difficult behavior were relatively reasonable things: people disagreeing about next steps on a project, people being chilly in interactions because bridges have been burned, even maybe people leaving Tina out of social activities — that kind of stuff. Not ideal but not unhinged.

      However, the examples in this case are people secretly changing performance reviews or FAKING ERRORS IN WORK to try to make Tina look bad. Sorry, but something about this workplace is clearly deeply dysfunctional and it can’t be blamed on a perception that Tina is too big for her britches.

    12. Analytical Tree Hugger*


      Several of the people are senior to Tina and have managerial authority over her. They have no need to use underhanded tactics to address any issues with her. They have direct authority to sit her down and say, “When you did ABC, that was unacceptable. You need to start doing XYZ” with those blanks being anything from soft skills to specific processes.

      1. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

        And those people are totally unwilling to do any work to figure out how Tina is performing. Or what Dave is up to. (What other nonsense will he pull to get his way? And why is nobody concerned about it??). They seem to just want the problem to go away on its own rather than having to deal with it.

    13. Admin Lackey*

      I think a major aspect of this is just how resistant to change most people are, especially when it’s a new employee pushing for the changes. This happens even in functional offices that aren’t full of lying vipers.

      Couple the resistance to change with the fact that she’s a new employee, she does really great work, and she’s an assertive woman and I think it’s entirely plausible that people in a really toxic workplace would react this way. I mean, look at management – they know there won’t be any consequences.

      If the problem was really her attitude, there would be more recent examples. Plus the false mistake is just so out there that I think we can take if for granted that this office is pretty fucked up. I think they probably just decided early on that they hated her and went from there.

    14. Nameless*

      “if this many people are supposedly out to get her, there must be something else going on here,”

      I mean, if the root cause is racism/sexism… no there doesn’t.

      1. Observer*

        “if this many people are supposedly out to get her, there must be something else going on here,”

        I mean, if the root cause is racism/sexism… no there doesn’t.

        I would put it differently. I would say that racism / sexism / other bigotry is the “something else going on”, rather than anything Tina is doing.

        But I do agree that it’s highly likely that some sort of bigotry is at the root of this issue.

  21. HugeTractsofLand*

    I am baffled by this, this is so, SO frustrating. And to be clear, OP is not a bad manager! There are just so many levels of people not taking this seriously or actively wanting to harm Tina’s career that OP can’t get any traction anywhere. Is there anyone that you haven’t tried yet, maybe someone from HR? In the meantime, in addition to being transparent with Tina, please document all of her accomplishments and all of the negative behavior against her. If she stays through the next evaluation period, I would lobby HARD for a raise and also add that in light of the campaign against her it would go a long way to keep your star. Good luck.

  22. T'Cael Zaanidor Kilyle*

    It sounds like this company deserves to lose both the OP and Tina. Preferably to the same competitor.

    1. Ex-prof*

      Yeah; I actually found myself thinking “I hope I don’t own stock in this company because they’re going down.”

  23. Dasein9 (he/him)*

    LW, Tina needs to leave. And you should too.

    This is not an obligation, but would be a good thing to do: Leverage your professional network on Tina’s behalf, if you can do so. It might be hard as you’re looking for work too, but dropping her name with descriptions of her abilities to the right ears may be the best help you can give her as her manager right now.

  24. Yup*

    Can anyone say sexism in the workplace? If Tina were Tino he’d get the raise and all the praise. But Tina? Oh no! A competent, smart woman not afraid to speak up. A threat!

    Lest anyone think sexism is over and equality has come to the workplace.

  25. No ma'am*

    What the hell is happening here? This sounds like an organization large enough to have even one person in an HR role; go to them! I’m not one to involve HR in many things but I feel like they’d be very interested to hear that an employee is being harassed by colleagues and managers are condoning it as well as participating in it. Because this IS straight up harassment.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Unfortunately, unless there’s some evidence that the treatment of Tina is based on her sex/race/religion/disability/age — i.e., evidence that this is illegal harassment — there’s unlikely to be anything HR can or will do. Higher level managers have shown they condone this, by either actively participating or turning a blind eye, and HR doesn’t have more power than high-level managers if there’s nothing illegal happening. (And to be clear, this may be happening because Tina is a woman, but it’s likely going to take more than what’s listed in the letter to make that a concern to HR in a company that’s run like this one is.)

      1. darsynia*

        I’m deeply curious to know: if Tina were to find a new job and their prospective employer were to reach out to this company and be told that she ruined a big project with false numbers (if they lied about the falsified documentation, basically), would she have grounds to do anything legally about that? I kind of assume so, but all I can think of is that if OP moves on first, and Tina has to provide a current manager’s assessment, nothing good will come of that :(

      2. Turanga Leela*

        As I read the letter, my biggest question was whether there’s some kind of illegal discrimination happening here. It makes so little sense otherwise. I hope Tina has reflected on this, and if there’s plausibly illegal discrimination against her, has spoken to a lawyer about her options.

    2. MigraineMonth*

      Even if it doesn’t rise to the level of legal harassment, a functional HR department should be concerned with bullying, lying and screwing with performance reviews. I’m not holding out a lot of hope that HR is a shining beacon of sanity given the cesspool of (non-OP) management, but it might be worth an attempt.

  26. Margaret Cavendish*

    Oh my gosh, every paragraph of this letter is worse than the last one. I think your only option is to help Tina in her job search in whatever way you can, and for both of you to GTFO as soon as possible.

    Good luck, and I’d love an update when you have one!

  27. Ex-prof*

    Wow. Every boss in this letter except the letter writer should be a nominee for Worst Boss award.

    Poor Tina. Yes, help her plot her escape. To quote the Simpsons: To a place where her intelligence will be an asset instead of a burden. Then get out yourself so that you don’t have to watch Dave strut. (Or as the Brits more colorfully put it, wave his willy.)

  28. Mordreder*

    If I were OP, if I had other employment options, I’d consider trying to find a new job before Tina does and then try to hire her at the new place.

    (Regardless, if I had a choice about it, there’s no way I’d stick around at that madhouse.)

  29. Anne Shirley Blythe*

    Just reading this wore me out, and I’m drinking coffee. What an incredibly petty environment. I agree that both you and Tina should be job-hunting. I would love to see you both go to the same new employer! Please update us.

  30. Animaniactoo*

    Point of disagreement for OP:

    Mike is wrong. Dave’s behavior IS in your purview when his actions are having a significant impact on your employee/team member.

    Also… IS there a discrimination angle to be pursued here? Male employee being favored over a female employee? Jen defends his actions as “understandable that he is upset about having his data sent by her”? What the what?

    1. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

      Seriously. He can have whatever feelings he wants. None of that justifies sabotaging a colleague.

  31. Jennifer Strange*

    I can’t think of many other AAM letters I’ve wanted karmic retribution for as much as this one. There is so much wrong here, but good on the OP for doing their best to help Tina.

  32. Hiring Mgr*

    In this case i’d say the best way to get you star performer back is to follow her out the door. This place is a total mess

  33. anob*

    And a good manager-of-managers should be digging into a PA that describes a woman as “bossy, pushy, abrasive, and arrogant” – those are really gendered words. It’s possible for a woman to be rude and dismissive of colleagues, in a way her manager should address – but if I saw that in a PA, I’d want to dig a little deeper with the manager, and make sure the issue was described more objectively, and backed up with specific instances, and look for broader discrepancies in the manager’s treatment of male and female team members

    1. MsM*

      Yeah, what’s happening might not be illegal or discriminatory in a way that would get any traction in court, but it’s going to be a bad look for the company if Tina goes on to be a rockstar elsewhere and her experience here becomes common knowledge in the field.

        1. Abundant Shrimp*

          The thought has crossed my mind too. Or an immigrant, or a first-gen college graduate, something that had to have all these deranged people in this deranged company decide that Tina needs to be put in her place.

        2. Nesprin*

          This question showed up in the open thread last weekend- Tina is active in LGBT community + female.

          OP did not believe Dave’s animosity arose directly from discrimination, though acknowledged that Dave being shown up by a younger female could have contributed to his malice.

          1. Gatomon*

            This is what’s so nefarious about this kind of thing – only Dave knows what’s in his heart. Unless he’s otherwise demonstrated a predilection towards or against bigotry, we just don’t know if that’s involved. But people can definitely be a-holes without being bigoted.

            I had a new supervisor come in and inexplicably target me immediately, though not to this extent. (I wasn’t a rockstar like Tina either, but I had been in good standing with my previous supervisor and grandboss until my she came in.) There was nothing she ever said or did to indicate it was due to my race, but it was also like, what other reason is there? None of my coworkers could point to anything I’d done, and some did think it boiled down to me being a PoC. Literally the only thing I can think of is that we happened to have the same designer winter coat when she was hired – an absolute steal from the local TJ Maxx type place. I thought it was amusing, but maybe she was just that petty. (shrug)

            This kind of bullying is horrid to experience though; I hope Tina is job hunting and OP supports her fully to get out and as much as she can until she can get out. That’s the only solution here with so many people aligned against her/ignoring the situation. I hope it works out for Tina as well as it did for me.

          2. StarTrek Nutcase*

            Dave is low hanging fruit and least important in those treating Tina wrong. IME Tina bears the responsibility for this royal cockup. She had the audacity to excel wildly in a new job compounded by being fresh out of college. (/s) She is being treated to huge heaping helpings of jealousy by Dave, Jen, Sara, and Mike. They can obviously see her star quality and feel the need to slap her down hard. They’d rather have work issues than for her to solve issues and outshine them. (Also interesting to note her mistreatment comes from both genders – we women have come soooo far!)

          3. GreyjoyGardens*

            A-ha. Tina is queer and female. How very dare she be so competent. What a lot of horrible, trashy, no-good people showing everyone what they’re really like, and only the OP and Tina believe them.

            I feel so sorry for Tina, and I hope she can go on to another company in an even higher paid role. OP can be her reference. This company deserves to fail, and fail hard, and leave Dave and Jenny and Sally out of a job. (I know OP would be collateral damage, but I am sure they’d be able to find something else.)

            I am just hopping mad on behalf of Tina. I wish her a stellar career full of kudos and awards.

          4. nnn*

            OP said in the open thread that Tina is straight and cis presenting but also they are a very LGBT friendly company.

        3. DJ Abbott*

          You don’t have to be POC to get treated like this. I’m white and female and this was the story of my life in my 20’s – 30’s.
          I hope Tina and OP find much better places to work, and this employer gets what they deserve.

          1. Aggretsuko*

            I’m still getting targeted and other than being female, I’m demographically standard. Sometimes a person just rubs other people the wrong way and they will be determined to Go Get Her. Unfortunately, there’s nothing you can do to win out against people who are determined to get you, except leave or get fired.

            This company is especially flabbergastingly awful, though.

          2. BTDT*

            Exactly. Now, being white can get you targeted as well. On one hand,, a type of progress,, on the other,, seriously people, why are we taking a step backwards.

          3. GreyjoyGardens*

            I think in many cases, anyone who is seen as “different” can be targeted. It can be race, gender and/or gender presentation, disability – but anyone who stands out in some way often finds themselves targeted. The only atheist on the team, the only young person in an office that is older or vice versa, an immigrant, or even someone who is not “from here” in an insular culture or office, a quiet person in an office full of sporty extroverts, and so on.

            This is certainly not inevitable – there ARE terrific, inclusive workplaces – but in many cases it is much easier to scapegoat someone who is seen as different somehow.

            1. N C Kiddle*

              The letter about the manager who created a cliquey team complete with beer runs that drove off a star performer springs to mind in that context. Sometimes in a poorly organised company a bunch of people just get a really toxic mindset that just reinforces itself.

              1. GreyjoyGardens*

                Same with the “Carrie” letter where one smart, introverted employee was being ostracized. Though that letter had a much happier follow-up; once the office Regina George left, everyone was much happier and nicer to one another and to Carrie.

                In this particular letter, it’s more than just one Queen Bee, unfortunately; it sounds like a whole barrel of rotten apples.

              2. Abundant Shrimp*

                Great example – weren’t picking on her age and family status? They were all single and in their 20s and she was the only one in her 30s married with kids. Which, if I recall, led to them seeing her as a “poor cultural fit” and intentionally managing her out.

          4. DJ Abbott*

            @BTDT, it wasn’t because I’m white. It was because I’m female. Everywhere I went there was at least one man who had to try to put me in my place.

          5. Random Dice*

            Jo-El — NO, I’m sorry – you’re an exception to a pattern, but that doesn’t negate the pattern.

      1. PhD survivor*

        I’m not a lawyer but this sounds like sex discrimination to me. It might be worth Tina speaking to a lawyer to see if she has a case. I also wondered if Tina is a woman of color which would make it both sex discrimination and racial discrimination. She’s clearly being treated and paid differently than her male coworker in spite of better performance. Hope Tina finds an amazing job elsewhere, this post makes me so angry on her behalf

        1. Orora*

          Not only is a similarly-situated male employee getting better performance reviews, he falsified a report to get the LGBTQ+ woman in trouble. The resulting adverse employment action is loss of an increase and bonus which she was justifiably qualified for.

          If Tina even casually mentioned to management or HR that any of these actions may have been related to her gender or sexual orientati0on, it could be seen as retaliation based on protected status. Retaliation for discrimination is often easier to prove than discrimination itself because the sight lines are clearer: “I reported discrimination and lost a bonus I was qualified for.” Retaliation also doesn’t necessitate that the discrimination be proven, only that the reporter makes the report of discrimination in good faith. Hank is an idiot for not turning this over to HR or hiring an attorney to investigate.

          So, Tina, if you’re reading this, know your rights and give thought to the possibility that this could be motivated by illegal discrimination.

          1. GreyjoyGardens*

            I would love to see Tina get an absolute pit-bull of a lawyer and sue the bejabbers out of that company, and walk away with a nice fat settlement. And get a better job with a good reference from the OP. She sounds like she’d be an asset anywhere she worked.

      2. Ex-Teacher*

        Without knowing all of the details of the situation it’s really hard to say, however this is really striking some big red flags of discriminatory behavior.

      3. I See Real People*

        I disagree…what Dave did to Tina was both libel and slander. She should go after him in a civil court.

    2. Hazel*

      They are ad hominem attacks that are not appropriate even if not gendered. A decent manager with an actual case for improvement uses concrete examples.

    3. CLC*

      What manager thinks “bossy, pushy, abbrasive, and arrogant” are things that go in a performance review in the first place? And what is the deal with Mike? First he says that Tina’s manager and her previous manager should compromise on her performance rating, and then he says that Jen gets to make all the decisions regarding Dave because she’s his manager? This place is out of control.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        That’s all code for “quit bothering me.” This guy doesn’t want to get his hands dirty and shouldn’t be managing a hamster farm, let alone humans.

        1. Worldwalker*

          I actually did once manage a hamster farm. 200+ breeding hamsters in my bedroom. Mike would consider conflict between hamsters “personal problems” and not care until they started eating each other. Possibly not even then.

      2. Jolie*

        Especially repeating the same thing in every aspect of the performance evaluation – which kind of defeats the purpose of the scoring system.

        Like a correct way of filling an evaluation form (with recent data, not from two years ago) could be :

        How are her technical and problem-solving skills? Exceptional, she worked a miracle on data from failing company and saved us a buttload of money.

        Now, how easy is she to work with? Well, she’s pushy, arrogant, abrasive, bossy, and one time she insulted my dear old mother, so not really.

        What Sally is doing is more like :

        How are her technical and problem-solving skills? Oh, here’s a complete non-sequitur that I also pointed out elsewhere: she’s pushy, arrogant, abrasive, bossy, and that one time she insulted my dear old mother.

    4. Bruce*

      I can’t think of any of my managers in the last 35 years that would have let something like that go into a review without having a big discussion and getting to the bottom of it. Wow. (I say 35 instead of 40 years because the first 5 years I worked for a toxic company). And for “Dave” to falsify a document and not get fired is outrageous. Both people should be looking for a job, and if the LW finds a job first he should try to help Tina make a move too.

  34. Stuart Foote*

    I have been Tina before on a much smaller scale. I wasn’t a “genius” whose work was saving the companies huge amounts of time and money, but I had just started in a call center and was generally well-liked, and my work was generally considered very good and my ideas for how the company could improve operations were considered good ones. (The company was extremely old-fashioned and would never actually get around to doing them, but they appreciated the thought).

    However, there was one guy who had worked for the company for years, and while he wasn’t great at his job he knew the extremely convoluted and inefficient systems the best, and due to his service tenure he got some opportunities to hit his goals that others didn’t get. When he heard a recent grad was criticizing his beloved systems and exceeding his targets, he was LIVID. It got to the point where we had to separated because he couldn’t stop himself from being extremely rude to me.

    I later discovered he had previously been in management but was demoted for saying inappropriate things to one of his subordinates. According to facebook his marriage has also since broken up. So, lovely person all around.

    1. kiki*

      “While he wasn’t great at his job he knew the extremely convoluted and inefficient systems the best, and due to his service tenure he got some opportunities to hit his goals that others didn’t get.”

      I have a suspicion Dave and his supporters might be feeling threatened because in this scenario they think Tina could jeopardize their job security OR change the bar of expectations for their roles. In your example, that one guy would have lost his security to continue doing a mediocre job without fear of being asked to improve in order to retain his job. I don’t know how well Dave and others are performing, but I have to imagine that there is fear that they won’t be able to see the promotions/raises/etc. that they want unless they do better than Tina, which is so much harder than what they’re doing.

      1. Bird names*

        Absolutely. If they can’t rise to her level they sure can do their best to drag her through the mud.

      2. Stuart Foote*

        Exactly. I’m sure when they complained that Tina was “arrogant” they meant “much better at her job than we are”.

        Also, I will admit I was skeptical of the scheduling bot being asked out story because I didn’t believe there were that many insane people out there, but after reading this account it seems that the world is much, much weirder than I could imagine. These people are demented. The only other story that compares is the person who got fired because the person who stole his lunch complained that it was too spicy.

        1. Enai*

          Oh, I’ve got to remember that. “Arrogant” means “better at $foo than I am”. Is that one in Ambrose Bierce’s “The Devil’s Dictionary”, do you think?

      3. Marcella*

        Yeah, I saw the mentions of AI and automation and wondered if people were feeling threatened. Worried about becoming obsolete, maybe; or maybe they were planning to hire or promote for roles that Tina made unnecessary by fixing data issues so quickly.

  35. Ronan*

    I feel so much for Tina. Being lied about and undermined in this way must be awful, and now she’s in a position where she’s punished for being talented (but you can’t stop using those talents, because no one else can output that quality), told she’s too bossy and abrasive, and then placed in a position where she has to coordinate and manage work across multiple teams while being told to be less pushy and bossy. It sounds like there’s a serious dose of sexism at play here too. I hope Tina can find a better job soon.

    1. Tau*

      And it’s her first job out of college! She seems to be handling things admirably, but I worry what this must be doing to her confidence and understanding of how the work world works. I really hope she gets out for a much better job that will treat her the way she deserves, and OP with her.

      1. Tau*

        And note that by “admirably” I mean that she didn’t seem fazed by the early negativity and generally handled things quite professionally. I kept expecting a Tina explosion of rage at some point and never got one. LW reporting that she seems crushed and miserable now is like… well, wouldn’t YOU be?! Really, the sooner she gets out of there the better.

      2. Bitte Meddler*

        When I got to the part about Tina handling the dug-up-out-of-the-grave criticisms by laughing them off, I instantly assumed that Tina is a person of color. A lifetime of micro- and macro-aggressions would have taught her how to “laugh off” absurd aggressions like this.

        * “Laugh off” = swallow anger and outrage, and put on a sunny face so the white people won’t fee uncomfortable.

  36. Fluffy Fish*

    I would seriously go so far as to tell Tina that you know she is stifled and maligned here, and that you’d hate to lose her but would FULLY support her if she decides to move on including giving her glowing references.

  37. HA2*

    The one thing you should do, OP – take Tina out to lunch somewhere NOT on campus, and tell her she should probably be job searching if she’s not already, and that you’re willing to be a stellar reference for her, give her your personal (non-work!) contact info so you can be that reference without your workplace interfering. Be clear about both of those things, not just implying them.

    Because even though Tina MIGHT guess both of those on her own, she’s also fairly junior so she might NOT and that would be terrible, if she stays stuck in this hellhole of a job because she thinks this is normal or because she thinks she can’t get out.

    Then get out yourself.

    1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      Exactly. I couldn’t agree more.

      It’s a dumpster fire. Save her, then save yourself, LW.

      It’s a dumpster fire full of bees.

  38. Abogado Avocado*

    If I were employment counsel for this firm, I’d be telling Hank and Mike that they may think that “nothing illegal or discriminatory” may have happened here, but the EEOC may not see it that way when: (1) the person who lies, is found out, but still gets ahead, is male; and (2) the person who saves the company money and is a star performer, but is targeted with flimsy and fabricated evidence, is female. And, yes, I fully understand that you have two female managers who have been part of this situation, but having female managers doesn’t insulate the company from the inference by the EEOC that sex discrimination is the root cause of Tina’s treatment.

    For those thinking, “but there’s nothing here about discriminatory intent,” please note that there are a lot of gendered expectations about how smart women are supposed to behave, even in a hard-charging business environment. This includes hiding your intelligence, being deferential, and never, ever making male colleagues look bad, even when they screw up. When you examine how Tina has been treated, and Dave has been protected, it raises a strong suspicion that Tina is being punished for daring to be both female and smart.

    Sex discrimination may not be at the root of this firm’s very screwed up way of dealing with Jen and David; it could “just” be terrible management. However, as detailed by the LW, these are lousy facts for the employer.

    1. Ann O'Nemity*

      Yep, this situation opens the door to a sex discrimination accusation. I bristled at the comments about successful Tina being “bossy, pushy, abrasive, and arrogant” in 2022, and that being used to cut her bonus and lower her raise. Plus, the comparison of performance vs treatment of Tina and Dave.

    2. Sandi*

      In my experience, female managers can be the most punishing to female employees. I left one employer because the two women who ran the EE group for women in STEM were treating all their female employees badly, and I was one of them.

      I currently have some amazing female managers, they are former STEM colleagues, and I think the majority of female managers are good. But if a female manager is bad then she can often be much worse to women.

      1. Anonny*

        I am female and the worst sexual discrimination I have ever faced was at the hands of my female manager. After I left I found out that my manager thought I was good enough to take her job and it was why she focused on me and pushed me out.

        1. Lady_Lessa*

          I, too, am female, and my two women bosses are at the bottom of my list as well. And there isn’t a big culture difference either.

          One book that I own, but haven’t gotten around to reading is “Woman’s Inhumanity to Woman” by Phyllis Chesler

      2. Can we not?*

        I’ve heard most of my professional career (25+ years) that “women are the worst to women”, and yes, I’ve seen some of that myself. But we really do need to put it in the context of the patriarchy as a whole. Women don’t just up and decide to be awful to other women, they see that modeled in society as a whole and in many office microcosms.

        It’s such a different thing than men being misogynistic/sexist/bigoted. By definition, men have the power and the privilege and are setting the rules and norms in which ALL women have to work. So if a woman learns the way to fit in is to practice that same misogyny, it’s still not really the same. Plus it’s not like those women are getting ahead in the way their male counterparts are.

    3. 2e*

      Is it necessary to show discriminatory intent under US employment law?

      I’m genuinely curious! In my jurisdiction, intent is not a factor in adjudicating employment discrimination cases; all that’s required is to demonstrate adverse impact on protected grounds. (Not a lawyer, but my understanding is that if a female employee can show that they were treated differentially, it doesn’t matter whether or not the employer was conscious of the differential treatment. If it happened, it’s still a violation of the law.)

    4. BellaStella*

      Came here to ask about this. OP can you or Tina contact the EEOC with loads of the documentation and ask for a review? I do not know how this works so maybe Tina should take all this to a lawyer first then EEOC if lawyer advises.

    5. Boof*

      Thank you! Yes op start stressing “illegal gender discrimination and hostile environment” to any higher up you can

  39. The dark months*

    Is there any grounds for Tina to take a leave of absence? For anything? And then redistribute her work to mostly Dave? So Dave gets to be in control of all the things he complained about and Jen gets to manage him? I think that would be awesome. Tina could look for a new job and OP could watch it all burn. While also looking for a new job of course.

    1. MsM*

      At the very least, OP could push back on Hank trying to offload his work on Tina. If Dave, Jen, and Sally have enough time and energy to pursue this, surely they’d love a new project to prove their mettle.

      1. Ashley*

        This is what burns me! She’s supposedly the problem child of the group, but when something goes wrong, they come crawling to Tina to fix it! Absolutely blows my mind.

        1. Andie Begins*

          Good on Tina because I’d do a murder if I asked not to have to coordinate the project that was taken away from me and was forced to pick it back up because the idiot it was handed off to fucked it up. I’d quit on the spot if I could afford it.

  40. Crystal Claire*

    OP, please provide an update on this asap. Support Tina in anyway possible and GET OUT OF THAT PLACE AS WELL!

  41. Trek*

    OP If you know an employment lawyer refer Tona. this is textbook hostile work environment as they allowed another employee and manager to disparage her to the point of loosing part of her raise and a bonus. since they are so week I can’t imagine a settlement wouldn’t be offered. you need to get out as well because you will be targeted next. post everything on Glassdoor

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Legally, hostile work environment would require that she prove the treatment was because of her gender (or race or another legally protected characteristic), not that people were hostile to her and she happens to be a woman.

      That doesn’t mean she shouldn’t still talk with a lawyer; there may be things a conversation with a lawyer would elicit that aren’t in the letter, and a lawyer may be able to negotiate her a settlement regardless because companies often don’t want to deal with legal issues even if they think they’d ultimately prevail. But I want to clarify that based on what’s here this isn’t “textbook hostile work environment,” so that people don’t misunderstand that term.

      1. Lilo*

        Those lawsuits are also unfortunately slow, difficult, and expensive. She can talk to a lawyer, of course, but the harsh reality is the systems meant to protect this kind of thing are woefully deficient.

        1. Unable to can*

          Even just a strongly worded “do you realise how this looks for you?” letter from a lawyer could do the trick.

        2. MigraineMonth*

          Fortunately, companies also hate lawsuits. Just mentioning that she’s retained legal counsel, or having a lawyer send a letter raising sex discrimination as a concern, would probably be enough to get Tina severance or a guaranteed neutral reference (which may be necessary because other than OP this management is bananapants).

          Actually, where is HR in any of this? Can they be appealed to as the adults in the room, or are they as out-to-lunch as management?

    2. Dek*

      Is there any chance she could just sue Dave for, I dunno, defamation or something? Falsely submitting deliberately incorrect work to make her look bad seems like it could be a legal issue all on its own.

  42. Lacey*

    This is unhinged. But not surprising.

    Way too many companies are filled with managers who care, not about profits, not about treating their employees well & fairly – but some secret third thing.

    I don’t know what it is. I’ve never figured that out, but it seems to involve treating blustery jerks who aren’t that good at their jobs like they’re untouchable princelings.

    Tina should leave. The OP should give her a fantastic reference. And then the OP should leave.

    While there an absurd number of companies that enjoy wallowing in meanness & mediocrity, there are also plenty who welcome & reward competence.

    1. CommanderBanana*

      “Way too many companies are filled with managers who care, not about profits, not about treating their employees well & fairly – but some secret third thing.”

      This is so true. I left my last organization after a similar situation happened – not exact, but a lot of parallels – involving a new hire who was 1. not doing her job 2. out on medical leave for most of the year and a half she was there 3. lying about what she was doing and 4. physically incapable of doing the job. For some reason the my grandboss was ALL IN on protecting this person, who ended up costing them a ton of money and blowing up the department she was hired to lead. Then they ended up letting her go anyway because she never actually did any work.

      I’ll always wonder what the end goal of that string of decisions was. All that happened is that they paid through the nose for consultants to do the work they’d hired her for, had a director position empty for over a year while paying someone a director salary to not work, and had to replace all but one of the positions in that department because we all quit rather than continue working for her.

      1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

        Could very well just be sunk cost fallacy + ego for that kind of situation.

        “If we change course now, then everybody will know that I made a mistake hiring her in the first place, and I couldn’t bear the shame.”

    2. Fluffy Fish*

      Power. That’s the third thing. There are people who enjoy nothing more than exuding power over people and never in a good way.

    3. MsM*

      Sometimes it is just that their idea of “treating everyone fairly” is “I can’t fire someone unless they’ve literally committed a felony,” while failing to see that’s not fair to the employees who have to work around the person who never manages to cross that line but does plenty of other damage.

    4. Blue*

      That secret third thing tends to be the status quo, in my experience. There’s some people, whether it comes to their relationships or workplace, who don’t want to have to make any effort to change things. They crack down on the people they see as the trouble-makers as opposed to the people actually behaving inappropriately, like with Tina and Dave.

      It utterly baffles me, to be honest, but that’s at least what I’ve managed to figure out when it comes to these people, and it seems to generally be quite consistent.

    5. Sarahnova*

      Never, ever underestimate how far some people, and indeed companies, will go simply to avoid having uncomfortable conversations. The blustery jerks will bluster and raise a ruckus if called out, and many, many, many managers will sadly therefore just not do it, and push the blame for any resulting pain onto the reasonable souls who have a problem with said jerks, because they can.

    6. Student*

      Lots of people avoid conflict by giving in to whatever the noisiest person asks them for most often. They don’t necessarily stop, step back, think about what they’re being asked. They just go into some weird autopilot mode to try to make the noisy person go away by giving them whatever they want, no matter how nonsense the underlying situation is.

      Blustery jerks figured this out early in life and made it into their entire personality.

  43. fae ehsan*

    this is f-ing insane. deliberately putting an error in someone’s work to make them look bad and then admitting it and still keeping your job without being on a PIP is crazy. run, tina! run, manager! run far far far away.

    1. Lilo*

      Being on a PIP? You don’t put someone on a PIP for that. That is a fire immediately, no second chances. This employer is bananapants.

      1. Nea*

        The more I read, the more I wonder what the VP did in all of this. Tina sent a clean report directly to the VP, Dave sabotaged the report and told the whole department Tina did it, and Jen essentially said that all was forgiven because David had a right to have hurt widdle fee-fees because Tina covered her butt.

        And the VP did WHAT here? Anything? Anything at all? The VP is holding objective evidence and… eating popcorn while Jen and David attack Tina for successfully protecting herself?

  44. Nat20*

    Holy hell, this is infuriating. I agree completely with Alison – Tina deserves better, and while she should have gotten better from this company (not OP’s fault, they did what they could), she at least deserves to get out and find a better employer altogether. And I hope OP also sees the writing on the wall that this is not a good place for them, either (or any sane person, yikes).

    Also, this is obviously speculation and not the point, but I’ll just say it. About Dave not getting fired by Jen: when a terrible employee who does something utterly egregious is protected at every turn by their boss when it is so beyond-a-doubt obvious they should have been fired, I just have to suspect that the employee & boss have… something going on. Speaking from personal experience with shitty bosses, anyway.

    1. ScruffyInternHerder*

      If nothing else, they’re the secret keeper.

      I’ve seen that before. Untouchable because the keeper of all of the boss’s secrets. Maddening.

      1. Observer*

        If nothing else, they’re the secret keeper.

        That’s a good point. My first thought was discrimination. But this is also a real possibility. Dave knows where the bodies are buried.

        OP, something is VERY wrong at this company. I think you want to get out of there.

  45. Parenthesis Guy*

    Tina should talk to Hank. Hank may not willing to take her side when you talk to him, but maybe he’ll be willing to do something if he talks to her. He can’t ask her to take on a big task and then she watch as she gets shafted.

    If that fails, you should help Tina build a case to talk to HR. If there’s anyway you can find possible discrimination, you should push that angle. HR probably should come after these people with a hatchet.

  46. Teapot, Groomer of Llamas*

    I just can’t believe that somebody deliberately falsifying internal records wasn’t shown the door the second it happened. It’s unethical at best, and depending on the state (assuming this is US, but AAM tends to lean US), would potentially be illegal. Even if all of that isn’t true, if he was willing to do that to try and shaft a coworker, what is it to say he won’t do the same or even worst to benefit himself more materially? He’s a walking talking liability.

  47. TotesMaGoats*

    This is an whole extra level of crazy banana pants. You both need to get out of there but good grief, poor Tina! When she leaves and I hope it’s a really soon when, you owe her the most walk on water/Mary Poppins recommendation you can give. And if there was a way to work in how professional she’s been when faced with discrimination and a hostile workplace, I’d do that that.

    If any place can be a textbook description of a hostile workplace this is it.

    1. TotesMaGoats*

      So seeing AAM’s response above regarding hostile workplace, I’ll concede not textbook but good lord it should be. But maybe it is a gender thing with Dave.

  48. TotesMaGoats*

    So seeing AAM’s response above regarding hostile workplace, I’ll concede not textbook but good lord it should be. But maybe it is a gender thing with Dave.

  49. Generic Name*

    There’s a concept called “Tall Poppy Syndrome” that I’ve seen circulated in the context of support groups for parents of gifted children, that I think applies to Tina. Basically it’s when people try to “cut down” a coworker whose performance is objectively better than most. I have no advice other than help Tina leave, and get out yourself.

  50. AndersonDarling*

    Does Tina have dirt on Sally? Did she point out inconsistencies in her previous role with Sally and Tina didn’t understand the seriousness of what she found?
    Did Tina mention that something could be considered unethical, suspicious, or fraudulent? This is the only reason I would think that the world outside of the OP is trying to get rid of her fast. Everyone else is worried about what Tina found, they are all in on it, and Tina has to be discredited to save their hides.
    If Tina is as good as she sounds, she would find the fraud.

  51. kzkz*

    Please, explicitly tell Tina to leave! She might feel like she’s letting you down, or that you wouldn’t give her a reference, or whatever. Make sure she knows that you think she would be right to move on and you will help her!

  52. Ms. Elaneous*

    A related Alison question:

    Can the LW (ethically) write a glowing reference for Tina Today, and just hand or send it to her for her ongoing use in job hunting ? (saying I would hate to lose you, but you deserve better)?
    Or is that just not done and not as helpful as I think it would be.
    I know that’s done if employee’s job is ending, but sounds like it would be a nice thing to do here. I suggest that because it sounds like the sabotage set might clandestinely delete any glowing endorsements LW leaves in the files.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Written references aren’t really much of a thing outside of academia (and I think maybe some parts of law?). But what she can do is offer to be a glowing reference for her whenever she needs one, and if she knows of job leads can offer those too.

    2. Myrin*

      If you are in a place where written references are The Thing To Do (which I personally am), OP could absolutely do that, and it’s not unethical or weird at all. I’d assume this whole situation is taking place in the US, though, so no written reference.

    3. ecnaseener*

      I was thinking that too — it could say something like “please feel free to call me to talk in more detail, but I wanted to write this to explain that Tina has not been evaluated fairly during her time here — if you speak to others at this company or request copies of performance reviews, you may get false information which I would be more than happy to explain.”

  53. Betty Beep Boop*

    This is one of those situations where I wish “team job-hunting” was more of a thing.
    OP and Tina BOTH going somewhere else together would be kind of awesome.

    1. Lilo*

      My husband’s former employer promoted a toxic manager and every single person ended up jumping ship, with a couple of them getting hired together.

      1. Bitte Meddler*

        Similar thing happened at a company where an incompetent and hostile/angry-all-the-time peer was promoted to be our manager. There were five of us under him, and I got four of them to interview at the place I was interviewing with*, and we all got job offers. We turned our resignations in on the same day.

        * (It was a global company that was expanding their footprint in our area, so there were a couple dozen open positions for our role).

  54. My Reasons Are 3-Fold*

    I… what? What the actual fork?

    I’d continue to go up the chain of command with full documentation. Maybe it will help, maybe it won’t, but I’d have to try going over Hank’s head.

    Even if by some miracle that does work, however, I would still follow Alison’s advice to encourage Tina to leave, be a glowing reference, and get out yourself. I’d also encourage you to leave Glass Door reviews once you get out. What an absolute dumpster fire.

  55. PB Bunny Watson*

    I don’t want to overreact, but this also hints at sexism. A younger woman who is a high performer/achiever can do no right… while her toxic (male) colleague actively undermines her, and he can do no wrong? Of course, we don’t know if there is a history of women being underrated, but it just feels gross.

    1. Emily*

      I don’t think it’s overreacting at all to point out that sexism looks like a factor here. It very much does seem like sexism is a factor in all of this.


      Came here to say this. Confidence in young women is often unfairly perceived as arrogance, when the same attitudes and behaviors in young men are favored.

  56. Jaina Solo*

    One question I had from reading this, because Alison’s statement about the collective treatment of Tina (“did she murder their children”) stood out to me–is Tina a different race from the others? It’s hard enough being a confident woman but with how united they are against her, it just had me wondering.

    1. I GOTS TO KNOW!*

      This was my question too. Why the vitriol to Tina? Is it racial? Is it ageism? Is it jealousy? It’s so bizarre

    2. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

      I really think there is something like this going on, and I’m sorry that LW didn’t include this information. Did everyone else go to the same high school? Is this all happening in a small city and Tina is from another area? Or is it *just* about her being fresh out of school and someone thinks she needs to “pay her dues” or some such nonsense.

    3. Marcella*

      As someone who went through something similar, my bully and I were both white women. Different lines of work so I was not in a position to take her job. But she spent considerable energy trying to malign me and successfully turned a few people against me. The only explanation I ever got was that I “thought I was better than everyone else” because I had worked for big companies and was published. (I never mentioned either at work.) I suspect there was more to it but it did teach me that insecure people can really go on a vendetta when they feel small.

    4. Wanderland*

      This is the first thing that came to mind reading this. I would like to know the demographics (age/race/gender) of everyone involved because this is egregious.

    5. Hiring Mgr*

      Could be,or maybe they see Tina as the young hotshot who’s disrupting the status quo and it’s a simple case of resentment. She’s “fresh from school” and had already gotten all these things done, changed systems, and so on. Very easy to imagine some longer term employees getting bitter over that.

      Either way, the behavior is insane.

  57. darsynia*

    Tina needs a new job and so does OP. I hope Tina doesn’t learn ANYTHING from this terrible place. Holy fuck.

  58. Practical Reasons*

    omg. I’m not sure this can be fixed. The company dynamics are just too warped. I’d find a way to let Tina know that you’d be willing to be a stellar reference, so she knows that when she starts looking for a new job, she can count on you. Then you yourself start looking for a new job.

  59. Andromeda*

    There’s more than just one employee out to get Tina.

    *Maybe* try Hank again? Out of everyone he seems the most clueless, as opposed to actively having it out for her. I wonder whether he’s aware of how egregious the smear campaign has actually been, or whether the other managers have been feeding him info that muddies the waters. And is there any chance you could speak to the VP of HR or HR-equivalent, framing it as “we could be sued, or it could get out to the news and make us look terrible”?

    1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      Given how many people are supporting the campaign and how high the rot goes, I think the title would more accurately read, “My employer, is out to get my star employee.”

  60. Zipperhead*

    100 percent help Tina get safely away from that company — and then work on getting free, too. A company targeting a high performer and condoning lies is going to fall to ribbons and it’s going to be extremely ugly for anyone stuck there.

    Help Tina flee! And then flee! Flee!

  61. Ridic Needy Cat Mom*

    Genuine question – assuming this letter takes place in the US, at what point does this level of harassment and bullying become a hostile work environment?

      1. Czhorat*

        I REALLY wish they’d settled on a different legal name for hostile work environment sexual harassment; it would save SO MANY of these conversations.

  62. HonorBox*

    OP, I would like to say something and I hope you read it and believe it. You have not failed Tina.

    Again… you have not failed Tina.

    This workplace sounds incredible in its dysfunction. Another manager going in and changing your evaluation of an employee? Bad. How is it that Sally has access to make a change like that? Then your/Sally’s manager suggesting that meeting in the middle is the right course of action because he doesn’t want to ask Sally how she has the right to make the change she did? Really bad. Another employee purposely sabotaging a report to make Tina look bad? Super duper bad.

    The workplace has failed Tina. You have not.

    Your best course of action is to take Tina to another lunch and tell her the truth. She has been failed by the workplace and there’s clearly nothing you can do to change the situation. Encourage her to look elsewhere…not because you want to see her leave, but because you want to see her thrive. Then look elsewhere yourself. This place is both on fire and filled with bees.

  63. LP*

    Step 1: take Tina out to dinner and show her this letter exactly as it appears
    Step 2: offer to provide a glowing reference for her, or anything else she might need
    Step 3: find a better job with people who *fire people who falsify data*
    Step 4: escalate this as high up as you can possibly go, on your way out if need be, in the event that *someone* above your managers’ heads realizes how banana pants crazy this is

    1. Dasein9 (he/him)*

      If LW does this, then,

      Dear Tina,

      It doesn’t have to be like this. Please look for work. You belong at an organization that appreciates your talents. All the very best to you.

  64. K in Boston*

    I know this is waaaaaaaaay easier said than done, but ideal big picture: Get out and bring Tina with you! Assuming the stars don’t align for that, though, then to echo others, do what you can to help her get out.

    When I was considering leaving my last role, my former — as in, former even at that time; I wasn’t working under him in my last position, though we were still at the same company — director set up time with me to see if there was anything he could do to help, because I was so unhappy in my then-current role. He listened to my concerns, gave me some perspective/advice to cope with the interim, helped me come up with some metrics to help market myself as I moved onto my next chapter, and said he was happy to give a great recommendation and all that. Honestly that meant the world to me at that time as someone who felt like they were a good employee but wasn’t being treated like one.

    1. Generic Name*

      This is great advice. Tina may be worried how she will get another job given that this is her first job out of college and everyone seems to be against her. By showing her that you have her back, she’ll hopefully feel more confident in her job search. I would even offer to go over her resume with her. Make sure she is taking credit for the stuff she’s done and notes the impact on the company. Pretty much what you’ve said in your letter here. “Saved X Company $300,000 by learning acquired company’s systems in a week and downloading appropriate data” is one hell of a bullet point for an accomplishment.

      1. HonorBox*

        This is great advice added on to great advice. The resume thing is important because that’ll give her what she needs when she’s interviewing. Shaping that narrative is hard, especially when it could appear that nothing she is doing is right/enough.

  65. Swamp Witch*

    I have been Tina so I just want to say it’s great how you’re supporting and sticking up for her.

  66. Some Internet Rando*

    My heart rate went up reading this. It is so terrible. The issues Dave has with Tina seem sexist (the interrupting, the difficulty accepting feedback from her) and the older male people in charge are not seeing this or dont care (I cant help but wonder if this is also because she is a woman in a tech role).

    I hope Tina quits. I hope she sues for gender discrimination. I hope you leave too.

  67. Keymaster the absent*

    I left a job that I actually really liked because I was Tina. The boss would take my work and give all the credit for it to Dave – my coworker – who he played golf with. Then tell me off for ‘not producing enough’.

    Then Dave started corrupting my files on purpose. Given we worked in IT you”d think that would get him thrown out! Nope, management reckoned I must have done it myself. Then came the ‘arrogance’ accusations and how I was being totally unfair to Dave because he was a rising star and I wasn’t.

    (He wasn’t. His tech skills were sub par. But his political skills were impressive)

    Finally, I just gave up. Went back to a really basic level of performance and got another job elsewhere – a firm that actually did support me.

    I will say this: You can’t fix this. This is a collapsing building right now and you and Tina are trying to shore up the doors and windows while the load bearing walls are cracking. Neither of you can win. Talk to Tina, off record and off the premises, that this isn’t on and you don’t think it’s resolvable. And then say you’re going to get out and recommend she does.

    Neither of you can succeed here. But somewhere else you can shine.

  68. Unable to can*

    …Why does someone who longer manages Tina have *any* say in her performance review? That alone shows a pretty dysfunctional environment.

    I hope you and Tina get to resign on the same day.

    As a sidenote…what exactly was in that forged report? It was clearly something important if it went to a VP, so is there some watch org (externally or internally) who might be very interested to hear that your company dealt with a forger by *checks notes* getting the job he wanted?

    1. Just Thinkin' Here*

      I had times when I’ve moved internally between departments and the organization had my review input from both managers and then weighted their scores by the amount of time I spent in each department. It’s an annual performance review of the past year – not a forward looking view of your abilities. Now, if it was forward looking then you’d be judged on things you haven’t done yet, which would inject even more subjectivity to the process that is already highly subjective in most places.

      1. Unable to can*

        Okay, that actually makes sense – and sounds like it’s what ended up happening even though originally Hr was apparently going to take the word of someone who doesn’t manage that person anymore as gospel and was having the current manager sign off on something they never wrote.

      2. HonorBox*

        Depending on when these “issues” came up for Tina and when the evaluations took place, it may be a matter of timing of that review.

        That said, I think a former manager being able to make a blanket change to an evaluation and put a former employee on a PIP is bonkers. If I’m HR or the manager’s manager, that gives me some pause. And a cut and dry “meet in the middle” with a 3 instead of a 5 or 1 doesn’t make a lot of sense.

        1. Jaybeetee*

          Yeah like… is the thing still an issue or not? As written, it sounds like Tina’s former manager wanted to go around her current manager to put her on a PIP for an issue that’s since been resolved anyway and has zero relevance for the former manager or her team (because… Tina is no longer on that team anyway, regardless of what problems she does or doesn’t have). Which suggests to me it’s more of a “reaching for ammo” thing that like, an actual issue.

  69. dorothy zbornak*

    I want to see the update for this and hope it is that Tina & OP both got new jobs and Tina is now making 10x all those other jerks.

    1. Unable to can*

      I hope it’s Tina and LW winning the lottery and buying the company.

      Then keep Dave on in whatever job he least wants to do under the pretense of not being monsters who would take away his livelihood (making it clear that they absolutely would, but he deserves this hell more).

      I also hope everyone else involved steps on a poison ivy covered lego.

    2. Generic Name*

      Yes! While I can’t say that I’m as smart/talented as Tina, when I decided to leave my former dysfunctional company, it only took a couple of months. I left for a company that created a role for me and for a 30% raise. I’m now making more than my old boss at my last company was. I hope Tina (and you, OP!) has a similar success story.

  70. Just Thinkin' Here*

    As soon as Tina got a 3 on her performance review, she should have put her resume out on the web and started applying elsewhere. Does this place has a problem with high performing female employees? Because the level of sabotage is extreme is there isn’t a level of discrimination going on. Is the management team family, related, sleeping with each other? There’s no real logical explanation.

    There are way better places – especially given Tina’s skillset, she has the pick of the litter.

  71. MuseumChick*

    My head is SPINNING. WTF is going on at this company? Where the hell is HR in all of this?

    Others have already provided great advice but I want to add a voice to a few points. Pull Tina aside (ideally outside of the office) and tell her 1) Get an employment lawyer (and to save all evidence of what has been happening) 2) You will be a glowing reference for her.

    Now, you could do the following, schedule a meeting with your boss, their boss and HR (if they are at all half way competent which I know is not the case everywhere) and lay out this entire saga and state explicitly that if if the bullying of Tina does not stop YOU will have to reevaluate if you can continue to work at this company. But this is a risky move and you will have to be ready for any of the results that could follow.

    Also side-eyeing the relationship between Jen and Dan….something is weird there.

  72. Nea*

    You help Tina by making introductions for her in another company that will value her contributions. Don’t wait for her to ask for a reference – look around to see what doors you can open and open them for her.

    1. Abundant Shrimp*

      Oh great idea, since this is Tina’s first job out of school and so she might not have much of a professional network yet!

  73. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

    The company hate on Tina is both baffling and dreadful. She must get out asap, so please help her to do so – and then follow her out.
    This company is a toxic mess that anyone sane and competent should run from.

  74. Coffee Protein Drink*

    Oh wow, this is just awful.

    Dave should have been fired for falsifying information on the spot. Sally should have been called out on her behavior becuase she had no basis for a 1 that I know of. She certainly couldn’t excite some bad examples. Mike acted cowardly. Hank? Another one being cowardly, probably for his own optics.

    I don’t know who infuriates me more. So many to choose from.

    1. MsM*

      I’m angriest at Hank, honestly. What is the point of being in leadership if you’re not going to lead by example? Especially when you acknowledge a good performer is being shafted at the expense of one who’s proven pursuing their personal agenda matters more than the facts?

  75. Emily*

    OP, I really hope you leave this job as soon as possible and advise Tina to do the same as well as provide her with a stellar reference. This company sounds absolutely awful, and Mike and Hank are both incredibly useless enablers. Dave should be out of a job, and Sally and Jen aren’t much better.

  76. Dadjokesareforeveryone*

    What in the actual eff is wrong with these people?!? This letter makes me so mad that there’s a malicious, coordinated effort to put down/push out a high performer. The only conclusion I can reach is they feel threatened by a young, competent, assertive woman. I hope to read the update where both Tina and the LW found much better jobs at a much better company.

  77. FrivYeti*

    I am a little bit surprised at how toweringly angry I am right now on both Tina and OP’s behalf.

    Get Tina her introductions, get out of there as soon as is feasible. I would probably have quit on the spot during that absolutely bananas fight over Sasha editing the review, but only because I do not always have the ability to play nice with absolute chucklemonkeys and I don’t think I could have kept my cool.

  78. M2*

    This is crazy.

    LW maybe you should write one more email (as emails are legally binding) saying what Alison said and cc your manager the VP, HR, etc. basically put it out there that what Dave did was a fireable offense and the way Tina is being treated is awful and you worry it is borderline discrimination (if you have seen examples of this and list them).

    That being said did Tina come in telling everyone they were wrong and she knew how to fix things especially straight from university? This usually doesn’t work and is a bad way to start a job. I’m not saying this happened, but I always say listen and wait at least a few months or longer to see how things go before you try to make big changes. You don’t know how things work yet and coming in acting like that might maybe people view you as disrespectful.

    I did this once years ago when I was young (and the company had major issues) but it didn’t make me well-liked. People came for me like they came for Tina because I highlighted their incompetence. I should have waited a bit longer (I waited maybe 30-45 days to start saying big change needed to happen) and should have maybe said and done things in a different way. Looking back even though I know it was toxic and I was right in what needed to change the way I did it wasn’t probably the best. I learned from that experience.

    I am currently a very strong employee who was mistreated by the big boss. Although I like aspects of my role I am looking to leave. It’s hard when you go above and beyond and people disrespect you. In my case the person didn’t apologize per se but has promoted me and told me how wonderful I am in verbally in large meetings and in group emails. But it is little too late. I never know if I’m a meeting big boss will start to yell at people or be kind. To me Dave should have been fired right away, but they kept someone on who clearly had it out for Tina.

    Jeff Bezos said to listen and be the last one to talk in a meeting. I agree with this statement especially when you are new.

    I feel for Tina and think Tina and LW should look for new jobs.

  79. MrMassTransit*

    Great example of how one or two bad managers can create immense harm for an organization. I’d suggest offering to be a reference for her if she wants to apply elsewhere.

  80. Rex Libris*

    So… The short version is that Tina is infuriating a bunch of semi-competent slackers by actually doing her job, and they’re mad because she’s blowing the curve and making them look bad. Tell Tina to get out, then get out. That the VP isn’t stepping is all the sign you need that the company is happy with the status quo, and would prefer not having the boat rocked over cleaning up the mess.

  81. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

    > Tina was really mature about it and kept her chin up despite clearly being disappointed that she would only get an average raise and no bonus when she was doing so much more than any other analyst.

    I expect that is because she’d already been wondering about leaving, is it too soon? Will I be letting them down? etc and then when this happened, she was receiving confirmation that she’s doing the right thing in leaving and the path is clear.

    She does sound a bit like the “brilliant jerk” archetype though.

      1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

        The comments described her as “bossy, pushy, abrasive, and arrogant” and made reference to specific incidents where she exhibited those qualities. When OP asked her about it, she acknowledged she acted like that and almost seems to have laughed it off.

        1. Perihelion*

          You know, I never see anyone complain about a man being “bossy, pushy, abrasive and arrogant”. Because those traits are rewarded in men and punished in women.

        2. Irish Teacher.*

          But those were comments from somebody who was defending their falsification of a performance review so it’s highly likely they were greatly exaggerating at the very least. And they could only come up with two examples, which sounds like they were really searching for anything that might somehow justify their utterly bizarre behaviour.

          And she didn’t exactly acknowledge she was bossy, pushy, abrasive and arrogant. She acknowledged that she made a few missteps – two in total – in her early days at the company. That’s not being a “brilliant jerk.” That’s being new to a workplace.

        3. Dek*

          Her response to being asked about it was kind of the opposite of “bossy, pushy, abrasive, and arrogant” though. She acknowledged her missteps and indicated that she was at fault and had learned from it, as opposed to getting defensive or blaming someone else. Laughing about someone bringing up a 15-month-old incident (especially in the context of a current review) seems more than a little reasonable. Especially since the incident itself seemed mild.

          It’s telling that they don’t have any more recent examples.

          But more than that, the people describing her as such have shown themselves to be untrustworthy.

    1. Lady_Lessa*

      Often women don’t have much choice. Be passive and get walked over OR be assertive and be thought a jerk.

    2. Dinwar*

      “She does sound a bit like the “brilliant jerk” archetype though.”

      No, she doesn’t.

      I’ve worked with people who may as well have been called “Dr. Gregory House, Geologist”. They don’t mildly overstep twice, learn their lessons, and play ball for years. The brilliant jerk throws fire axes at people, or attempts to run you over, or pulls them into cars and screams at them for 20 minutes on end, or gives you work they know you can’t do and then verbally abuse you and give you bad reviews (affecting pay) for failing to do the work you can’t do (yes, I’ve seen all of that, and more). A brilliant jerk absolutely would not sit quietly while people commit fraud by altering her work, or allow managers to flagrantly lie about them on performance reviews. Far from being a jerk, Tina is too passive and accommodating here.

      If anything, Tina sounds like someone who’s too low a level for her skillset. She’s operating at a higher level, seeing the bigger picture, and able to pull together solutions that save serious money; rather than clipping her wings, slip the jesses! I’ve seen what people like this can do, and it’s absolutely worth the mild bruises to the ego.

      1. MsM*

        Frankly, Dave is displaying far more “brilliant jerk” red flags. Or at least “I think I am brilliant and should therefore get to act like a jerk” flags.

    3. Workerbee*

      No, she doesn’t. One look at how the people around her are actively choosing to behave, including handwaving fireable offenses for their cronies, vs one of those cronies using feminine-coded adjectives to describe Tina’s manner, should tell you that company is a toxic dump.

  82. Sparkles McFadden*

    I had to go check my driver’s license to make sure it didn’t say my name was actually Tina. From experience I need to say the following: Both you and Tina need to get new jobs.

    Please tell Tina:
    – None of what is going on is how companies are supposed to work.
    – Everything Dave did was wrong and he should have been fired by now (or shot out of a cannon towards the sun).
    – She is weirdly being punished for being good at her job.
    – You tried to help but have been unable to do so because your company is a disastrous mess.
    – She needs to get out of there and you will give her a fantastic reference.

    Good luck and, on behalf of all of the Tinas out there, thank for trying. You can’t fix rot that goes that deep. Get out of there before that place warps you.

  83. Orv*

    People who are really strong at automation often end up with a target on their backs, because if they can do the same work in less time it makes other people fear for their jobs. I suspect there’s a bit of that going on here.

  84. Zweisatz*

    I agree with the last sentence of the reply (and the rest): Consider leaving yourself, everybody is failing Tina, except you.

    It would serve your company right to lose you both over this.

    1. Zweisatz*

      I’m already looking forward to the update where she leaves and everything goes to shit. Don’t stay and fix it, OP.

    1. Coffee Protein Drink*

      Some people decided that was the same as “woke” and “political correctness” and decided it wasn’t necessary. it caught on.

  85. Jessica*

    They literally called her “abrasive”?

    After we had a whole cultural moment in 2015 or whenever about how women getting inactionable personality feedback while men get actionable behavior feedback is the sine qua non of workplace misogyny?

    And the term “abrasive” was the prime example?


  86. Lily Rowan*

    I have nothing to add that hasn’t already been said here, but fellow advice-column addicts: Do you remember where else this letter ran recently? I can’t find it, but I know it was somewhere.

    1. Sorrischian*

      Someone further up said it had been in an open thread here recently, maybe that’s where you saw it?

  87. phira*

    I tried to read this letter with an open mind. Sometimes we get letters from managers who can’t seem to see that an amazing employee is actually terrible, or that a terrible employee is actually amazing, and so on. But even with that in mind, I can’t move on from:

    – Annual review being impacted by someone who doesn’t manage the employee anymore
    – The “compromise” to give her a 3/5 (if I were in charge, I’d want to understand what was going on! Averaging makes no sense)

    And the grand finale:

    – A coworker demonstrably falsifying documents to frame the employee and then NOT being fired (!!!!!)

    Tina could be truly mediocre as an employee, and I’d tell both her and the LW to job hunt. Bees, bees everywhere.

    1. Abundant Shrimp*

      The 3/5 was wild! Is Mike’s middle name Solomon? Cutting the accurate review grade from Tina’s manager in half because there’s an inaccurate one from someone who hasn’t managed Tina in at least a year, based on something that happened two years ago, is about as much of a compromise as cutting that biblical baby in half. At least Solomon had a plan to out the woman that was making the wrong claim in that story. Mike was dead serious!

  88. nora*

    I’ve been Tina. Not to this extent, but I was bullied by someone several levels above me, who encouraged her favorites to help (and they did). Her goal was to get me out of a job and she wasn’t shy about it. I quit before she could finally make something fireable stick. When I gave notice to my manager, who was her pet, my manager said “Oh, well, you know, you totally failed here but it’s okay.” …Thanks I guess.

    1. Zweisatz*

      I’d call leaving that company a win. It checks out that the miserable people who stayed there would call it the opposite.

  89. CSRoadWarrior*

    Like what other’s said above, both Tina and OP need to quit and get new jobs. This company is full of bees and nothing will change. Dave should have been fired. It’s just infuriating when companies allow this to happen. Any decent company would have fired Dave a long time ago.

    I have been in Tina’s shoes in the past. Though not to this extent, but it unfortunately got so bad I ended up quitting. However, this is a story for another day.

  90. thats just me*

    I’m not convinced that nothing discriminatory has happened here. It is entirely possible that Tina’s being targeted because of her gender, race, or some other trait — OP would obviously have a better feel for this than we do, but I think it’s worth examining. If this company has a competent HR department (which, based on everything else, is a big if), that’s worth bringing up, I think.

    Unfortunately, I think OP is right that she’s going to lose Tina. Maybe OP and Tina could both find jobs at a company that’s not such a mess.

  91. UpstateDownstate*

    The fact that she didn’t get the pay and bonus she deserved should be information enough for her to start looking for another job as soon as possible.

    And the OP as well…if this is how good and hard work is rewarded you need to leave.

    The moment an employer starts messing with your pay it’s Game Over. Bye!

  92. Dinwar*

    A few things jump out.

    An employee overstepping their boundaries twice is not a bad thing. I’m pretty sure I did that twice today (not 100%, because my job description is notoriously vague). I actively look for this in employees, because doing this means they are willing to take charge–a quality that is worth far more than the person’s weight in gold! Any company that will hold that against an employee for two years is incompetent, and should get what they deserve: A bunch of “workers” who will only do exactly what you tell them.

    Dave’s actions are fraud and slander. At this point AT MINIMUM a competent manger should be very seriously questioning how far this actually went. Someone who is willing to falsify one document is absolutely going to falsify more. There’s a thing where once you’ve stepped over the line once, you’re more likely to do it again–everyone wants to think of themselves as honest and hard working and a good person, so you’ll justify the transgression. And once that justification is in place, it’s far more easy to justify even more. Eventually you’re committing serious crimes.

    What Hank told you is that he is 100% okay with fraud. Maybe he still has some limits, but believe me, those will fade (by the mechanism described above). I don’t know your industry, but in mine this sort of behavior can easily land the manager in federal prison. And remember, you now know that the entire company is okay with this. AND you have made waves. You will be, if not next, than at least targeted very soon.

    If this isn’t a concerted effort, at minimum you know that these people are petty, dishonest, and willing to commit fraud in order to attack people. These are not people you want to work with.

  93. Workerbee*

    “ bossy, pushy, abrasive, and arrogant” – oh, look, feminine-coded descriptors. Tina probably was speaking in a normal tone, asked normal questions, and offered normally-toned opinions or solutions. And was a rockstar from the start among too many idiot adults coasting by for a paycheck.

    OP, I hope both you and Tina get out asap.

  94. Lana Kane*

    “I just know Tina is going to quit and I’ve failed her as a manager.”

    I’d argue the company has failed both Tina and you, OP. You should both leave. I don’t recommend resigning lightly, I know it’s a huge deal to do so. But in this case, both of you have truly been screwed over.

    1. Momma Bear*

      I agree. OP has tried to advocate for Tina, and gotten pushed back. Sally and Jen keep dinging Tina for errors 15 months prior. Tina backs off, gets something off her plate, everyone else messes up so badly she’s begged to take it back…but she’s threatened with a PIP and gets a 3 instead of her well-deserved 5? This company is full of bees and I hope Tina and OP leave as soon as possible. If Tina has worked there at least 15 months, she should feel free to go. No need to wait.

  95. Been there*

    Tina is fresh out of school. She is likely biding her time until she’s been there long enough (maybe the 2 year mark) so she can leave. And you should support her in any way you can when she wants to do that. The company is toxic and that will never change. Once this type of thing happens the only thing to do is leave.

    1. Khatul Madame*

      No need to wait till 2 years, Tina should start looking to move on regardless of the harassment, because this is the best way to increase salary for an early-career professional. Even if she got her 5/5 merit raise and bonus, she’d get more $$ at another employer.
      Add the toxic climate at the current workplace, add a great recommendation from LW, and Tina’s got herself a no-brainer.
      I will look forward for an update where Tina avenges herself by living well.

    2. Khatul Madame*

      No need to wait till 2 year mark, Tina should start looking to move on regardless of the harassment, because this is the best way to increase salary for an early-career professional. Even if she got her 5/5 merit raise and bonus, she’d get more $$ at another employer.
      Add the toxic climate at the current workplace, add a great recommendation from LW, and Tina’s got herself a no-brainer.
      I will look forward for an update where Tina avenges herself by living well.

    3. Dinwar*

      As Khatul Madame said, no need to wait. 2 years is to avoid looking like you’re job-hopping. On the other hand, if I asked someone “Why did you leave the company so soon?” and they responded “Someone falsified documents then blamed me for it”, I’d consider them leaving to be a sign of good judgment.

      The thing that comes out again and again here is that toxic work environments warp your understanding of workplace norms. A place that allows fraud to go unchecked is going to distort what you see as fraud. A place where management attacks you for “sins” committed over a year ago is going to distort your understanding of how transgressions are addressed in the workplace. And the longer you’re in that environment, the more distorted your perspective will become. Better to cut and run in this case. Some workplaces may consider it a bad sign, but those are probably not great places to work anyway.

  96. Sweet Tea*

    My immediate thought reading this letter is that Tina is a Black woman or a woman of color. I have experience this firsthand and have seen it happen to high performing Black women in the workplace. There is a phenomenon of “office pet to office threat” when the attributes that make a Black woman highly valued in the workplace becoming threating to the status que. It never ceases to amaze me the efforts expended by leadership and peers alike to undermine Black women in the workplace. Were as other women are rewarded with promotions and bonuses women of color are run out of organizations.

  97. Hedgehug*

    The amount of times I uttered wtf while reading this.

    OP you have been an amazing manager and have not failed Tina in the slightest.

    As said over and over before me, you and Tina both need to leave. Start your own company together and take down this one, haha.

  98. An Australian In London*

    About 80% serious:

    Since there is now ample precedent that there are no consequences for lying, falsifying reports, putting people on PIPs that one isn’t the manager of, and forcing compromise ratings… OP should now edit the PAs for every employee and managerbehaving badly here (including the VP), set them to 1/5, and add last so it’s at the top a summarised version of this letter to AAM.

    I suspect very quickly the company will decide those behaviours are not in fact OK, which is the argument for fixing Tina’s PA also.

    This might also be worth a letter to the Board and to the media? Salt the earth!

    1. BellaStella*

      How do people have authoring permissions in the performance develoemt database hrms system to write PIP amd 1/5 etc when not in line of command of an employee? Seems dodgy and i wonder if OP has this permission too? were others able to get this somehow in a not ok manner? i would check into this with IT. then if you OP can do the above of rewriting peoples appraisals…. well maybe not do not….but damn this is effed up security management of nothing else

      1. Ms. Murchison*

        Since LW says Sally was Tina’s former manager, I assumed that Tina switched from Sally to the LW sometime during the calendar year that the reviews cover. But for some reason Sally is still holding the previous year’s errors against Tina in her assessment for the last 12 months.

  99. Garblesnark*

    LW, I think the kindest thing you could do for Tina is take her out for lunch and say the following things:
    1. You are a star performer. You do amazing work. Everything you’ve done at this company has been incredible. Please make a record of these spectacular accomplishments for your distributable portfolio to the complete extent our company can’t come after you for. (Tell her what that extent is.) Whatever the others at this company have said to you about your performance that I haven’t been around for, the truth is that you are an amazing employee and top performer.
    2. If you feel at all like you are not cut out for work or being an analyst, that is a result of the horrifyingly toxic work environment here at company, and not because of anything you have done or failed to do. Please try to remember this. The way Dave, your previous supervisor, and the others at this company are acting is completely out of line, not at all normal, and not something you should expect from future workplaces.
    3. Please apply to other jobs, please list me as a reference so I can give you a glowing review, and put my personal cell number down so our employer doesn’t know you’re looking. In fact, here’s a recommendation letter with my cell number on it. If you don’t know how to make a great resume, please go to ask a manager for resources. And negotiate your salary; you should be making a lot more than you are.
    4. I’ve decided to take over the coordination of that report you asked to not be responsible for anymore. I’m sorry you were asked to take it over again.

    1. Momma Bear*

      I agree. Tina is demoralized in her first job. OP, please remind her that this beehive is not indicative of her skills or value.

    2. Ms. Murchison*

      All of this. I hope those venting lunches the LW mentioned include reassurance that the work world isn’t supposed to be that way. Fresh out of college, this job is shaping Tina’s expectations for the workplace and could be setting her up to believe toxic is normal.

  100. Unfortunately*

    Whoa. Not as bad as this, but I too was a manager at a place where no matter how good a job they did, no matter how much I advocated for them, there was an unknown target on my top people. To the extent where my manager would argue down each 4 or 4 I gave on a particular star performer’s review. I remember thinking, I sure the hell hope she’s looking for another job because this place doesn’t deserve her.” Well, she was and she left. I have since left, too.

  101. MistOrMister*

    This whole letter was absolutely nuts!! OP, you haven’t failed Tina, but if you want to be a good boss to her, please help her find another job! Please also encourage her to remove herself from doing the admin part of that prestigious report that got taken away from her. The way she has been treated, she should do no more than the bare minimum while she looks for another position and she absolutely should not do anything at all that will help anyone else in that company in any way.

    Every single other person above her level has acted horribly here. The utter gall of Hank and Mike is maddening. They are off their gourds and I really hope karma comes back and pokes them in the eye.

  102. merida*

    Oh wow. What a mess. Applauding OP for sticking up for Tina! You’ve definitely done a good job at making a stink on her behalf, and it should have worked but it didn’t – seriously, what on earth is wrong with your company?? Are you in a good place (financially, emotionally, etc) where you can jeopardize your own job by making a GIANT STINK instead of just a big stink? The only thing you haven’t tried yet is giving an ultimatum – it’s dumb that it’s come to this but it’d be warranted at this point to say: “fix this toxic culture for Tina’s sake, hold people accountable and take my star employee off a PIP or I’m leaving today.” If management still refuses to budge, which seems likely, then you get to leave in a hailstorm of vindication and righteous anger. On the other hand maybe losing a respected manager would finally scare them enough to change, who knows…

    Of course I recognize rage quitting isn’t feasible for people for lots of reasons… but I really feel like, if you can at all afford it, it’d be worth your sanity in this case.

    Other ideas: is there any governing body you can report this nonsense to? Board of directors? An ethics line you can call?

    1. Ms. Murchison*

      In the original open thread, the LW said they’re in a rural area with limited job opportunities so they couldn’t leave. Heartbreaking.

  103. r.*


    Sad to say there’s nothing really you can do here for Tina that you didn’t try yet.

    There *may* have been a *slim* chance when the prestigeous report was handed back to Tina by Hank — who, by the way, is a very special cookie for not realizing that this is has far bigger implications than an individual analyst’s review — since he agreed that she was treated unfairly that a quid-pro-quo could have been reached.

    But even if there could have been, it would likely be limited to giving Tina the review, raise and title she deserved; nothing would’ve been done of the department’s Daves (if things descend to such levels of lunacy there usually are multiple Daves involved) and their enablers would, so she’d still work in a toxic company.

    Even in that case I think the best thing Tina could do for herself, and for her career, is to move on; either into an entirely different suborg of your employer, one with a proper management instead of a clowncar, or to a different employer.

    If you want to do right by Tina, that’s also what you should recommend to her, and tell her that you’d back her up. You should consider moving on, too.

    PS: You did not fail Tina as a manager; by what you wrote you did everything within your power you could, and if that was not sufficient the blame does not lie with you. That belongs to Hank, who ultimately bears responsibility for allowing this state of affairs to obtain in his department.

  104. Pdxer*

    Wow, this is a bonkers workplace. The reality of this situation is a lot worse than the (already bonkers-sounding) title implied. Hank’s deep-seated insecurity issues are being picked up and run with by everybody else, so maybe insecurity is contagious in this workplace…? At any rate, Alison is spot-on. Get out get out get out.

  105. KB*

    Ah, I remember being a young woman and being targeted. Thank god my boss and boss’s boss only cared about results (and how I could continue to drive results) which I delivered. It seems like this awful behavior is only getting worse though because the bad players involved are rarely fired.

  106. Coffee Bean*

    I am so mad on Tina’s behalf that I could spit nails right now. This situation is so screwed up. How amazingly misguided are the managers (barring OP) and the VP. Dave should have been fired. I just can’t with this one.

  107. Jaybeetee*

    I suspect the 2022 incidents are a red herring here (apart from that they’re being used for present-day ammo against Tina).

    Like, okay, there were some incidents in 2022 and Tina acknowledged that work isn’t like a university seminar. Maybe Tina was one of those hotshot new grads we frequently hear about on this site who was a little too fired up, expected discussion and debate a few times when it was actually a “No, please just do the thing” situation, and ruffled a few feathers.

    Evidently she did course-correct, based off feedback or just realizing herself that her approach was pissing people off. At any rate, her current manager – and current team, seemingly – don’t have this issue with her. Which means, it’s no longer an issue.

    What it is, is useful ammo for her disgruntled ex-manager, a disgruntled dude on another team, and that guy’s manager. I would bet money that Dave could not care less if Tina annoyed some people in 2022, apart from whether that’s useful info for him today. Jen, who never managed Tina, presumably also doesn’t care that Tina annoyed people while working under another manager and team in 2022. Tina’s former manager, who presumably did have to deal with the issues in 2022, should still, rationally, not care if Tina’s current manager gives her a good review. Tina is no longer her problem.

    Occam’s Razor is just that all of these individuals are threatened by Tina being a rockstar, worrying that she’s making them look bad, and want to pull her back down with the other crabs (or drive her out). The VP looks at all this, sees “bunch of drama” (which is… bad), and doesn’t want to get involved. So it’s just Tina and LW trying to fend this off.

    This workplace sounds like a snake pit and both Tina and LW should be looking for a way out. I agree with comments above that point out that in the course of bringing Tina down, these guys are, at best, strikingly indifferent about sabotaging *LW’s* work too. They’ve had no qualms about giving LW outdated information about Tina, changing a completely performance review without telling LW, and kicking off drama when LW was away on vacation. Whether or not LW gets targeted *next*, they’re pretty willing to run roughshod over her *now*, which is not a good sign.

    1. GreyjoyGardens*

      I agree with you 100%. This workplace is a snake pit, hive of killer bees, stygian realm of nameless horrors, etc. And it’s not just Tina, it’s LW, who is being targeted. I think they both need to leave, ASAP. And hopefully the company will crash and burn, or at least the Dave, Sally and Jen division will be summarily stricken down.

      1. Jaybeetee*

        FYI, I just wanted to say that years ago on a dating app, my tagline was something like, “Message me if you can use ‘stygian’ in a sentence.” XD

        Which, in hindsight was pretty snooty of me and not a great move.

        And also, unsurprisingly, a lot of people didn’t know how to use it properly.

  108. Fierce Jindo*

    Tina came to you fresh out of school—she *needs* to know that she can use you as a glowing reference now, because she doesn’t have a long prior work history to fall back on. Don’t make her wait or guess.

  109. Worldwalker*

    This just kept getting worse the longer I read it. Nobody in the chain of command seems to be competent. They didn’t immediately fire someone who deliberately introduced errors to a report to smear another employee? In no sane workplace would that be anything but a firing offense. Deliberately introducing errors for any reason, even if it’s just somehow to get a long weekend off, should be grounds for termination, but this was particularly egregious.

    This workplace is full of bees.

    Help Tina get out … and follow on her heels.

  110. Irish Teacher.*

    But if Dave’s review is solely Sally’s responsibility and not the LW’s, shouldn’t…Tina’s be solely the LW’s and not Sally’s. It sounds like Mike is working from different logic in both cases.

    And honestly, Sally’s behaviour strikes me as nearly as problematic as Dave’s.

    And Hank seems to think the only options are “personality clashes,” “illegal behaviour” or “discriminatory behaviour” and it is really, really not. There is also bullying, which is going on here, unprofessional behaviour, which is going on here, sabotaging of work and so on. There are many things that aren’t illegal or discriminatory but they are still firing offences, like refusing to do your job, being incompetent, being consistently rude to coworkers or clients, insubordination, being constantly late for work, etc.

    1. Hlao-roo*

      But if Dave’s review is solely Sally’s responsibility and not the LW’s, shouldn’t…Tina’s be solely the LW’s and not Sally’s. It sounds like Mike is working from different logic in both cases.

      There are a lot of players in this letter. Jen is Dave’s boss, and Dave’s review is solely Jen’s responsibility.

      Sally used to manage Tina, before the LW started managing Tina. Sally gets to weigh in on Tina’s review (presumably she managed Tina for part of 2023 and the LW managed Tina for the other part of 2023).

      Mike’s logic about who can weigh in on whose reviews is consistent as far as I can tell. But his logic on how to “compromise” between Sally and the LW’s evaluation of Tina is bad.

      1. Never the Twain*

        Even if Tina really was a 1/5 for the first part of 2023, the fact that her now manager sees her as 5/5 isn’t any reason for settling on 3/5. The grade should asses performance throughout the year, so if you’ve shown that level of improvement over the period, the compromise should really be more like 7/5.

  111. SLG*

    I’ve been Tina. Not to the point of someone deliberately altering and falsifying my work, but every other part of this story: bullied, lied about, leadership and HR that looked the other way. Allison is right (as always): the best thing my boss could have done for me was be honest about what was going on, and help me find a great new opportunity.

    OP, something to consider is that Tina doesn’t have all the background info you do. Presumably she doesn’t know that her old boss insisted on rating her 1/5. She doesn’t know about all the back-hall discussions you’ve had with the various bosses involved. Without that knowledge, she might be internalizing this as “maybe I am kinda bad at my job / deserve to be treated like this / will never find anything better.” Obviously there are some things you can’t share, but you say in your letter that she’s a genius. Have you told HER that?

    1. Jake*

      There is a decent probability that Tina has no clue she is good at her job. It took me 8ish years into my career until I realized I was good at my job, and that was even with my bosses hyping me up.

  112. Please Don't Joke About Murdering Children*

    Alison, I love you but on behalf of myself and others who’ve suffered the real life murder of children, I respectfully ask that you amend your answer and remove that horrifying comment about Tina murdering children. This is an awful and uncharacteristically insensitive thing to say and I literally almost threw up when I read it.

    1. Lenora Rose*

      My knee jerk reaction was “I don’t remember the comment being that bad” so I went back and reread, and… actually, yes, it is. I think this post could use an example of horrible behaviour that isn’t quite so horrific.

      I think it’s easy to normalize these things and try and downplay them instead of calling them out. Like the way the one comic panel of Batman absolutely decking Robin (a martial artist assaulting a teenager in his care) has been turned into a meme even though every time I see it I’m horrified. (I had to speak up when a local ice cream shop used it as their front window painting. At Christmas. Of course I was told I was overreacting).

  113. Jake*

    OP, you should be looking for another position at another company, and once you get it, you should pull every string you can to bring Tina with you.

  114. Ms. Murchison*

    LW, I know that you miss your star performer and want her back, but the rest of your company has guaranteed that can’t happen. If you want to see Tina shine again, actively help her find a new job so she can.

  115. knitcrazybooknut*

    This is TERRIBLE. I’m really angry on Tina’s behalf. I’m too mad to think of anything specific to say, but if Tina ever has a chance to read these comments, I want her to know that there’s an internet stranger in the world who is OUTRAGED by this company and their terrible behaviors.

  116. Awkwardness*

    I read only the first third of the letter and was already convinced that it would be kindness to encourage Tina to leave. In my opinion it does not matter wether she has flaws which OP does not see (as somebody mentioned above) or they want her out out of pure spite. This is no environment for her to grow or develop her skills because her colleagues obviously are not willing to give fair feedback or extend some grace.
    She probably has ruffled some feathers two years ago and they never forgave her, because, after all, she was a young, ambitious, smart woman out of her lane (instead of a young, ambitious, smart man showing some potential).

    OP, try to be as transparent as possible and maybe use this as a learning experience for her to make clear that a single person, even as a manager, only has limited possibilities to change toxic company culture. Maybe give her some guidance to screen for companies with a culture that values performance. But do not try to keep her!
    The longer she stays there, the more likely it is to mess with her sense of normalcy.

  117. ticktick*

    If there were a more objective, high-ranking person that could legitimately have an interest in this (eg. CFO or CEO due to Tina’s prestigious monthly report or management of the acquisitions data), and the LW thought they would care, I would be tempted to send a “just to confirm the sequence of events and results, and the direction the company wishes to take on this” email to Sally, Jen, Mike and Hank, cc:ing the high-ranking person, and stating all of these facts dryly, and in in detail, concluding with the disproportionate and unjust results, and concern that Dave’s sabotaging activities both were detrimental to the company but also could be seen as defamatory to Tina’s reputation. I don’t know whether it was presented to Mike or Hank in writing, but it can sometimes hit home harder than if it’s in a verbal discussion that they’re not really paying attention to because they’re being dismissive, and hopefully a third party with no personal skin in the game might lead to better action.

  118. Trixie the Great and Pedantic*

    1) Tina needs to get out, for her sanity and yours.

    2) LW, you need to get out, for your sanity.

    3) your company needs a melittologist who is also qualified to perform exorcisms.

    4) we are going to need an update on this letter.

  119. Jules the 3rd*

    If Tina is female presenting, then I think Alison missed something: this is discriminatory. Sally’s paragraph is full of terms that have been documented to be applied more to women than to men. Her verbage absolutely opens the company up to charges of illegal discrimination. Can you educate Henry on that?

    If you plan to stay, or want to try to salvage Tina’s job, is there an HR path you could take? A whistleblower/ombudsman office to look into why Dave wasn’t fired? Can the VP to whom the report was sent correctly step in? Can you document the $$s that Tina has saved the company?

    If none of these are possible, job hunt, and *encourage* Tina to job hunt, and point her to AAM for resume and ‘life after a toxic job’ advice. Dave / Sally will not stop harming Tina, and you are a likely next target.

    Stories like this are why I am afraid to leave my employer. Sure, they want me back in the office 3 days a week and that *sucks*, but Tina would have four *independent* paths to complain about this, and at least two of them (HR and Ombudsman) would get Dave and probably Mary and Sally too. I have seen VPs fired, and it gives me a lot of trust in my employers’ processes.

  120. Hashtag Destigmatize Therapy*

    LW, the one thing I think you need to rethink is your loyalty to this company. It sounds like you’re taking your sense of personal responsibility just one step too far by blaming yourself for not accomplishing what you don’t actually have the power to accomplish. You are not failing Tina; the company is, and it’s also failing you. If you really want to show the higher-ups how foolish their decisions are, let them lose *both* of you.

    Mike, despite being a real person, sounds like an over-the-top parody of the Golden Mean Fallacy. But he loses the Stupid-*** Justification for Not Taking Action award to Hank’s “this was just personality clashes and nothing illegal or discriminatory had happened.” That’s right, folks, all conflict that doesn’t involve illegal activity is “just personality clashes.”

  121. Mike D*

    The manager needs to fight hard for Tina; look for another job in the meantime; and then hopefully poach Tina away. The manager cannot honestly do their job in the future with any integrity otherwise.

  122. Karma is my boyfriend*

    I have NEVER been so surprised from a headline to the actual letter.

    What. The. Eff.

  123. Tiger Snake*

    I want to believe this is fake. I want to believe that there couldn’t possible be a company, large enough to consume other companies, where if a manager goes to HR and reports that a department head allowed someone to try and change the annual evaluation scores in disagreement of the employee’s direct manager, on the basis of mistakes made multiple years ago, using gender-targeted language – that in that situation there is no HR department that wouldn’t sit up and say “Department Head get out of the way, this is our thing now”.

  124. Shocked*

    Alison’s advice is spot on. please give Tina an amazing reference as well as pointing her in the direction of any solid job leads you have. I guarantee she is looking. what a toxic place to work.

  125. H3llifIknow*

    Your company sucks. Mike sucks. Hank sucks. Sally sucks. Jen sucks. Dave sucks the most. What is going on at this company that SO MANY PEOPLE THERE SUCK?? I didn’t go back to the letter to see how long you’ve been there, but are you the victim of brainwashing? Gaslighting? What could possibly make you or TINA believe for a moment that ANY OF THIS IS OK?? You are Tina’s manager. YOU need to be advocating for her. STRONGLY. Go to HR “Jen falsified Tina’s eval” “Dave falsified a report and framed Tina for it.” Why haven’t you done this? Poor Tina. I actually have not as much sympathy for the OP as many here seem to have because IMHO she’s left Tina to fend for herself and fight the wolves off while the OP waves her hands in distresses while decrying “Oh dear!” I hope Tina finds something else where she shines. I hope she quits spelling it out with a bushel of fish, and walks out 2 middle fingers high in the air, sing-songing “Bye Felicia” and sashays out the door with NO NOTICE.

    1. Boof*

      I thin you underestimate the effect of multiple people in authority telling you you are wrong. Op really seems to be doing their best but the level of sheer mismanagement described here starts to have the same effect as gaslighting (i still prefer to use that term to imply an intentional element to the crazymaking – so only dave was clearly gaslighting in this scenario; but I don’t know whether sally is intentional or internalized misogyny or what, etc)

  126. Sybil Writes*

    Tina should consult an attorney for advice on documenting all this in case of the inevitable wrongful termination case she may have if she stays on (and possible harassment, even if she does not get terminated). They may also be able to provide advice for how to approach HR in the meantime. Negative PA for events that occurred outside of the review period really sucks (among everything else). Very short-sighted of company to document that.
    If your company has any form of DEI program, you and she should both approach whoever runs that.
    You should both leave this toxic vipers nest asap. Can’t wait for the update.

  127. Kau*

    This was posted word for word in the Friday open thread. The person who posted it was very responsive in the comments. I didn’t realize comments could be sent in as letters.

      1. Arthenonyma*

        Alison does have a note saying not to post things in the open thread if you’re submitting them as letters, but presumably there are sometimes exceptions when something is this nuts.

        1. annonie*

          Once something else got printed that was in an open thread and she mentioned she hadn’t known that because she doesn’t read all ten thousand open thread comments or whatever it is up to. So my guess is that and she relies on people not to double submit.

  128. BTDT*

    “Personality conflict” is how powerful, smart women are dismissed and minimized. Tina needs to move on.

  129. casey*

    What’s going on here? Does Dave have a really incongruous streak of charisma that isn’t being relayed here? Why does his word have so much sway in this nutty place?

  130. Looper*

    I wish I never read this letter. I’m so disgusted by this entire company. I hope Tina and LW both quit immediately and every other person involved suffers intractable diarrhea.

  131. GingerNP*

    ngl I keep coming back to the comments hoping that the LW has been here to give further info, you know, to like, potentially tell us how Dave spontaneously combusted one day or something

  132. B*

    I read this long of thing and all I can wonder is whether Tina is in since way different (person of color, LGBT, fat etc) that would make people just decide they hate her

    Bossy and aggressive are not neutral terms and they do not get applied evenly. The exact same behavior coming from one demographic vs another can be read completely differently based on what you expect and your own biases. This all sounds like it needs to go to HR honestly

  133. I've got the shrimp*

    I’m so angry on Tina’s behalf!

    To the LW I know you’ve done the best that you could (and got nowhere) in terms of what you can do in the company, but I recommend a step beyond Alison’s advice and I recommend proactively offering to be a glowing reference. It’s not in Tina’s best interests to stay with the company and she needs to get out before she gets stamped down into nothing :(.

  134. New Senior Mgr*

    Oh, Tina. This company doesn’t deserve her or you. Continue the offsite lunches, help her with her resume and job search if needed. Be an excellent reference for her. And do your own search.

  135. GlitterIsEverything*

    Absolutely agree with everyone saying both LW and Tina need to get out, now.

    LW, if you haven’t yet had a conversation with Tina letting her know that her self-motivation, proactive, top performer behavior is something she needs to continue in her next job, please do so now. If this experience dulls her enthusiasm, she’ll lose out on a lot of opportunities in the future.

  136. Goody*

    This is so completely bananapants that I think we might have a viable candidate for Hellmouth status.

    Seriously, OP and Tina both need to get the heck out of that place.

  137. baba oreilly*

    I am not one to go to “what racial or religious group does this person belong to” as my first reaction, but my first reaction was absolutely that this really really strikes me as Tina belonging to one that the rest of the folks do not belong to, and they want her gone because of it.

  138. Jasmine*

    This reminds me of the person whose spicy food was stolen getting fired because the thief and HR person were sleeping together

  139. Chris Roche*

    So he falsified data inn order to target another employee, got caught doing it, and the VP decided this was a personality clash? lol okay bud.

    There’s a systemic issue in this company. It’s not the future for any good performer.

    1. rebelwithmouseyhair*

      I was thinking it’d pan out like the wild post where the OP was fired for putting chili in her food, which made her colleague sick when he stole it, and it turned out the colleague was in an affair with the person from HR who fired her. So I was thinking Mike having an affair with Jen, but then who are Mike and Hank sleeping with? Is it a whole nother duck club?

  140. Boof*

    Gahh, this letter gets under my skin (and obviously I’m not alone). Sounded like Tina at least had another opportunity and I hope it’s everything she deserves! OP sounds like you feel stuck there and I get it but keep looking around please (Even just transferring to a less clusterfudge area, or just… keep fighting the good fight… stay gold op!)

  141. Fiachra*

    I can only hope that all this will be a big help in Tina’s lawsuit for constructive dismissal. A previous manager spiking her performance reviews based on things that didn’t even happen that year and leaving nasty comments, being effectively punished after another employee was caught falsifying data to target her without seeing punishment, all this is DOCUMENTED. I will also accept Tina quitting suddenly and derailing everything by her absence, but only reluctantly.

    1. rebelwithmouseyhair*

      And putting totally subjective criticism without anything recent to back any of the judgment up.

  142. rebelwithmouseyhair*

    Tina is a rock star, just like Taylor Swift.
    And people are always insanely jealous of successful women, so whatever she does, someone somewhere is going to trash her.
    Rock on, Tina. I hope you find a place where you’ll be appreciated. You might find it’s better to start your own company. Sounds like you’re plenty smart enough.

  143. Jlv*

    why is that other manager allowed to undermine your fiscal performance period? she should have done it for when the previous year ended.

    also, who writes those subjective opinions about someone in a a review? bossy? really? that’s incredibly problematic.

  144. Been There*

    I was Tina. LW, you have only one ethical path forward: Help Tina understand that none of this is her fault, things will not get better, she needs to leave, and you will help her do that while ushering yourself out the door too. Otherwise, this bright young woman will only change for the worse.

  145. Bess*

    LW, reading this was exhausting. Both you and Tina need to get out. Accept that you cannot change this petty, dysfunctional nightmare of a workplace and go find someplace sane and sensible.

  146. Gem-Like Flame*

    Why is Dave apparently above both criticism and consequences? Normally, anyone doing what Dave did – falsifying an important document to undermine Tina – would get a pink slip and a boot out the door! Why is he still an employee in good standing?

    Is Dave a member of a protected class – racial, ethnic, religious, disabled, etc.? If so, that company may fear that firing him will bring down lawsuits and bad publicity. If that’s NOT the reason why they’re keeping a dishonest employee, then what hold does he have over the executives who should have fired him long ago?

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