update: my new manager is someone I slept with years ago … and he doesn’t know we have a child

It’s a special “where are you now?” season at Ask a Manager and I’m running updates from people who had their letters here answered in the past.

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

Remember the letter-writer whose new manager was someone she slept with years ago … and he didn’t know they have a child together? Here’s the update.

Thank you for answering my letter. You were right, it was a really big deal. I was viewing the Jacob-as-my-manager problem from his perspective — until I told him otherwise, it was just a simple one night stand over a decade ago — and it didn’t seem like a huge problem. I hated and appreciated the reality check. I regret reading the comments, but thank you also for moderating them as quickly as you did.

A lot happened in a short space of time (thankfully I already had a therapist!). First, I spoke to my union rep who said, “Say NOTHING but call us if HR tries to set up a meeting with you.” Staying silent and having Jacob independently declare the prior relationship when he arrived would have been problematic because I’d still end up in the same position and I would have lied by omission. Our HR team can be gossipy and they know the age of my half-Chinese daughter, so I needed to have as much control as possible over the disclosure. I spoke to an employment lawyer who reviewed our policies and, at his suggestion, I wrote an email to HR declaring a prior relationship with Jacob.

And then I was immediately pushed out. Even if you have all the legal support in the world, you can’t prevent someone from doing something illegal, you just have recourse afterwards. In a meeting with my lawyer, the union rep, HR, and a member of the senior management team, I was asked to resign. When I said no, they insisted on a statutory declaration about the relationship with Jacob stating what happened, when it happened, how many times it happened (??) and who initiated it (??). I also said no to that. We ended the meeting with each side agreeing to think about possible solutions.

The company’s solution was to start messing with my pay, my benefits, my swipe card access to my office, my computer log in, and my email/calendar account. They spread rumors about me and I heard coworkers whispering that I’d had an affair with a manager. They sent me for a “random” drug test at a time when I was scheduled for an important meeting with clients. They cancelled accommodation that had been booked for upcoming travel, which I only found out about because I was getting paranoid and called the hotel.

I can’t describe how awful it feels to know that someone with this kind of power over your job is devoting their time and energy to thinking of ways to screw with you. Every day I was going into work wondering what was waiting for me and it was wearing me down fast. The advice from the union rep was to go back in time and follow their first piece of advice, or just keep documenting everything as we prepared to take legal action. The lawyer estimated that it would take at least a year to get any kind of resolution, and I didn’t even want the job anymore. By this point, I wasn’t sleeping much and I had cried a few times at work. I was beginning to crack and we were only just getting started.

So, I resigned. I wish I’d held up better under the pressure but it was all just too much with the looming deadline of Jacob’s start date at our office, and whatever way HR was going to drag him into this. I’m lucky that I can take my time looking for a new job, so I’ve had some space to process everything.

Outside of the work stuff, I spoke with a family lawyer who outlined all the possible ways this situation could go, and what the most likely outcomes were. Basically, my daughter is old enough that what she wants would get heavily weighted by a court if it came to that. I have spoken to my daughter many times about her father. I told her what I knew about him and that I had tried to contact him. I’ve offered for her to see a therapist if she ever wanted to talk about it with someone who wasn’t me, and she has always said “thanks, but no thanks.”

The family lawyer helped me write a letter which I left for Jacob. I told him about his daughter, said I wasn’t trying to get anything from him, and gave him the contact details of my lawyer. After a few weeks (of me freaking out that HR had somehow intercepted the letter), he emailed my lawyer. He was the easy-going and practical Jacob I remembered. He was still processing it but said he wasn’t going to take any legal steps, he offered us his family medical history, he apologized if I resigned because of him, and he said he would like to meet our daughter if she’s interested. She also has some siblings. I told her all this, she said she’s happy that she has her father’s contact info but she doesn’t want to meet him right now. She’s of the view that having him in our lives would cause unwanted disruption. And she doesn’t even know about the work clusterfudge.

{ 354 comments… read them below }

  1. bamcheeks*

    LW, you have navigated a complex and nasty situation with a great deal of grace and care for your daughter. I wish good things for you from here out.

      1. Violet*

        And mine. Wishing good things for your and your wonderful daughter, who sounds very mature and reasonable. Well done.

    1. Bruise Campbell*

      This X 10000!!! Wow that’s a helluva tough situation and you’ve handled it with as much aplomb as possible!! I am sincerely hoping for the best for Ya’ll!!!

        1. ElinorD*

          Agreed! Wow, you handled a difficult situation as well as anyone could. Hat tip to you, and best wishes to you and your daughter. I’m sorry for all you’ve been through.

    2. OrigCassandra*

      Yes indeed, LW, your calm under incredible stress is impressive.

      Your former workplace, however, is awful. I hope you find a better job quickly and come to be glad you’re out of there.

    3. Just Me*

      Yes, this. LW, you sound like an excellent mother, and Jacob sounds like a decent person too. I’m sorry your company was so heinous, and I wish good things for you in the future!

      1. Ineffable Bastard*

        I would even alert Jacob about the cause of resigning — it was not because of him, but this might be not a company he should trust too much.

        That said, OP, Jacob and their daughter indeed sound like good people and deserve very good things.

        1. The Real Fran Fine*

          I would even alert Jacob about the cause of resigning

          This would be a bad idea given how vindictive this company turned out to be. If they found out OP said anything to Jacob after she resigned and it was negative, who knows what further vindictive mess they’d start with the OP. OP just needs to focus on her child and job searching and leave these people in the dust.

          1. Pickwick*

            I agree. LW has a lot to worry about right now, courtesy of the bees infesting that company. An opportunity might present itself to her later to explain the situation more fully to Jacob, if that’s what she wants, but they’re not in regular contact, and they don’t have the shared understanding that that builds regarding what information can be shared and what should be held in strict confidence.

            1. allathian*

              Yes, I agree with this.

              LW, you handled this with all possible grace and poise, and your former company sucks.

              I wish you and your daughter well, and I’m glad that Jacob seems like a decent person.

        2. topcat*

          I think Jacob would have serious reservations about remaining at this company himself if he were made aware of how they treated her.

          I also think there’s a good chance he stumbles across this post. I’ve seen many of the more “dramatic” situations here and in other problem pages (eg Reddit) repurposed and re-reported all over the place, including in mainstream media.

          It wouldn’t at all surprise me to see this pop up in the Daily Mail for example.

      2. fidget spinner*

        Right, when I read it, I thought Jacob was maybe behind the company’s reaction… but he didn’t even know about it. How bizarre of the company to act like the LW did something wrong!

    4. Brambles are not the only fruit*

      All the best but if you still have an appetite for litigation then consider continuing with your legal action. Your resignation doesn’t let them off the hook. There should be something similar to the ‘constructive dismissal’ that exists in the UK.

      1. Lydia*

        I did wonder if she is going that route since this was clearly retaliatory. The only thing I wasn’t clear on is if it was the company that pulled out the stops on making work hell, or if it was Jacob.

        1. Momma Bear*

          I think it was the company b/c he hadn’t started yet and his reply through the lawyer didn’t indicate ill will toward her.

      2. No Longer Looking*

        Agreed – they deserve to be called to account if the lawyer thinks there is enough proof.

      3. DJ Abbott*

        I want to sue them and take them to the cleaners just reading this! Only if you feel up to it, of course.
        Whether you continue legal action or not I hope this company, or at least the people who did this, get what they deserve one day.

    5. JSPA*

      I would at least consider letting him know that you were pushed out, not because you want him to make it right, but because if he’s a decent guy, he deserves to know he’s working in a pit of backstabbing vipers. And that they already may feel they have dirt on him.

      1. 1LFTW*

        I had the same thought. If they’re willing to do this to the LW, they might come after Jacob next.

    6. Raisin Walking to the Moon*

      For real. That kid has at least one, and it sounds like two, really stable and sensible human beings as parents. Good for you, LW. May your new job be rewarding and stable, and may they value your skills.

    7. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

      Also here to say that you have done AMAZINGLY throughout all of this, and I am really pleased that Jacob is being sensible & easy-going and thoughtful too.

      I found out that I had two (previously 100% unsuspected) half-brothers after my father’s death, so I am always very invested in “unexpected child” stories, and I think your daughter is really lucky to have you as a mum. Thanks for the update, I’m sorry you were treated so appallingly, and this internet stranger (who wishes her own parents had handled things differently) is in awe of your capacity to navigate with grace (stealing bamcheeks’s words because they absolutely nail it). Good luck to you all.

    8. TG*

      And I am sure I am not the first to think your old company sucks and I hope you’re able to get some legal recourse! You handled it much better than I would have! You should be proud!

  2. Chauncy Gardener*

    Oh my goodness. I was hoping for an update on this. I am SO sorry your company is out of their minds and run by a bunch of a**wipes.
    You and your daughter sound lovely and I wish you many years of “living well is the best revenge”

    1. TheOfficialPrudenceSnooter(TM)*

      They really are a bunch of a**wipes! WTAF is going on with them? Why would they chose the nuclear option like that instead of just assigning LW to a different manager?!??! Holywow!

    2. Lea*

      How awful that the company proved terrible but happy for her daughter that Jacob was reasonable?

      In hindsight maybe she should have immediately went job searching instead of even trying to stay but god does it suck that she is punished for something she did years ago that wasn’t even a wrong thing

    3. ferrina*

      Truth. LW seems really logical and easy-going, and genuinely tried to do everything right. Her logic was sound every step of the way. Unfortunately, logic doesn’t count for anything when dealing with people that are both unreasonable and unethical.

      LW deserves much better than this, and I hope that life brings better things to her and her daughter!

    4. justeatit*

      You were hoping for an update in which she got forced out of her job because she slept with a man when she was in her twenties?

      1. Yikes Stripes*

        That’s not what they said, at all. They were just hoping for an update to the original letter.

  3. GwenSoul*

    Wow there was no easy answer to any of this but you did the best possible. It is okay to decide something isn’t worth your mental health

    1. Ostrich Herder*

      Seconding this. I’m so sorry you had to resign, that was out of line. But when I think about you continuing to work there after the way they treated you, it turns my stomach. Sounds like you chose the option that protects you and your daughter’s peace.

    2. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

      This. I posted below, but here it is again. Resigning can feel like letting the b*stards win. It really isn’t, though. Getting yourself out of a toxic situation that is sucking the life out of you and making you miserable is absolutely a victory.

      1. RVA Cat*

        This. Resigning was a tactical retreat because the battle was not worth “winning”.

    3. immunorecovered*

      I agree with this too! She did her best in what sounds like an impossible situation.

  4. em*

    I genuinely gasped aloud when I saw this had an update. OP, I’m sorry your employer was so horrible (and they were HORRIBLE). Wishing you all the best.

    1. Dances With Code*

      I am completely aghast at how awful your employer was to you, OP. I am so sorry and hope you love forward into a better situation. best wishes to you and your daughter.

      1. Zweisatz*

        Yes. This reads like your company was looking for the most destructive, stressful way to handle this. Shame on them, shame on all of them.

    2. EvilQueenRegina*

      They sound about as bad as the CEBro company from last year, and from what I remember, these didn’t even happen in the same country as each other, so there actually are two of them!

        1. ecnaseener*

          The title is “a DNA test revealed the CEO is my half brother … and he’s freaking out”

    3. ariel*

      At every turn they chose the worse possible option! I would also have doubted the union’s recommendation to remain silent but sounds like they had their reasons to advise that….

      1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

        Union was wrong too. Because it would have to come out at some point that OP was being managed by the father of her child. Then OP is fired for not alerting the company to the conflict of interest, which is a for cause firing. Then when all the retaliation was happening, instead of filing a grievance about it, they just said well you should have said nothing like we told you.

        Union was as bad as HR in their handling of this.

        1. Joelle*

          I agree with Pastor Petty Labelle (who has an epic handle). You were immediately in a no-win situation, and I suspect what they did was illegal, and am sure it was unethical and immoral. I hope you sue them and you get money out the wazoo (which you can use for your daughters education, a nice vacation for you both, or to buy a million cupcakes – whatever makes you happy) and that you find a new job with better pay, better benefits, and who are at a baseline decent people.

        2. Beth*

          This was a no-win situation. The employment lawyer was right that the above-board thing to do was to alert the company to the conflict of interest, but couldn’t protect OP from retaliation. The union ended up being right that staying silent might preserve OP’s job for the longest (I wonder if they’d seen this particular employer retaliate like this before!) but would have left OP open to serious problems if Jacob had decided to document the issue himself.

          It’s easy to say that the union should have been more proactive once the retaliation started, but a union is like a lawyer in that they can’t actually prevent your employer from mistreating you. All they can do is provide backing and resources to help give you recourse. Telling her to record each incident in preparation for legal action WAS them supporting her–it just wasn’t enough, in the same way that her lawyer wasn’t enough.

          The real issue is HR, who chose to be as awful to OP as possible instead of working with her to resolve the situation. This should have been as simple as shifting her to another manager.

            1. CubeFarmer*

              Once again, HR is useless. I’m not even sure that they protected the company here.

              1. House On The Rock*

                They probably didn’t in the long run. OP had already engaged a lawyer when all this was going down and was documenting/recording all their retaliation, so while it might take a while to get this worked out, the company could be facing something much worse than whatever HR thought they were protecting it from.

          1. Spring*

            Right! And since when do actual adults behave like these *ssholes? Sabotaging someone’s work?! I’m so outraged and enraged on OP’s behalf.

        3. Ellis Bell*

          Yeah, although I can see what the union was trying to avoid, and I can also see OP feeling like she did something wrong…. she was totally right to be wary of a “gossipy HR”. As bad as this was, it could have been blown up even worse and led to a valid firing. OP would have been in the same boat, and would have had no legal recourse.

          1. Kyrielle*

            The entire concept of a “gossipy HR” makes me cringe. Those two things should not be together. Unless *maybe* they enjoy ‘gossiping’ about celebrity news or something, but nothing in their workplace!

            1. Wendy Darling*

              Seriously, go watch some Bravo shows and gossip about that. D: Pretty sure the entire *point* of the Real Housewives franchise is to provide people with a safe topic of salacious gossip. If you’re HR and you’re gossiping about people at your company, you are doing HR very, very wrong.

      2. Caramel & Cheddar*

        Was just coming here to say this! I shouldn’t have been shocked by that, and yet the fact that they kept making bad choice after bad choice really left me with my mouth hanging open.

        LW, I think you dealt with this as gracefully as possible and I’m sorry your employer was so unredeemingly awful!

      3. Observer*

        I would also have doubted the union’s recommendation to remain silent but sounds like they had their reasons to advise that….

        Obviously they had their reasons. On the other hand, this is not a good choice – things could have gone very sideways anyway. It’s a shame the union was not more helpful.

        Would they help you in a lawsuit, if you decided to pursue one?

    4. Spero*

      It is shocking to me that they would have gone so awful and nasty to her BEFORE THE GUY EVEN STARTED and seemingly without his direction to handle it this way. That was a WILD and frankly unforgiveable course to take. Of all the ways I thought the original letter could play out, a third party going nuclear on OP was not on that bingo card.

      1. Lea*

        Right???!! There were so many reasonable paths they could have taken instead of this, it makes you wonder if there were just some slut shaming jerks in mgt or what

        1. Slow Gin Lizz*

          Agreed! I commented in another thread that this has Scarlet Letter written all over it. I thought we were past the 1600s but I guess not. :-(

        2. Arthenonyma*

          Given that OP mentions her daughter has siblings (ie Jacob has other children) I wonder if he’s married and their instinctive reaction is “oh noooooes this horrible single parent woman is going to try and ruin this stand up dude’s liiiife we must protect him”. Ugh.

      2. Miette*


        Perhaps this year we need to start a “Worst HR” in addition to the “Worst Boss” vote.

        I cannot even imagine the vitriol/level of evil required to torpedo an employee’s career like this… and to what end, exactly? Because she did the professional thing and disclosed this relationship *before* it became a management issue?

        1. Goldenrod*

          “Perhaps this year we need to start a “Worst HR” in addition to the “Worst Boss” vote.”

          I mean….there would be way too many entries.

    5. Ellis Bell*

      I really hope karma has plans for these people. What kind of mouldy, crusted-over-with-gunk kinds of hearts lead to thinking that slut shaming and reputation assassination is good stewardship.

    6. The Unspeakable Queen Lisa*

      I didn’t gasp until she was asked to resign. And then branded as a harlot with a big scarlet letter. Good lord.

      LW, I am so sorry. But at least Jacob is still a solid guy. He responded perfectly!

      1. Enai*

        Yes, I had to double check that it is indeed the year 2024 and not somewhere in the 1950s! So, she had a child out of wedlock. Should she be sent to a home for wayward girls, maybe? Or should we behave like modern adults and transfer her to a team Jacob doesn’t manage, with equal pay and equivalent work as she had before he came aboard? Decisions, decisions!

    7. Inkognyto*

      I’m sorry it came out this way. I really am.

      You also have an amazing daughter; in that she recognizes the bomb sitting in the open.

      and wants to deal with it later on her own time.

      I do wonder if the company talked too and had their lawyer look it over. the company lawyers though often chose ‘safe’ options not good options for the company.

  5. Zombeyonce*

    I wonder if Jacob will ever find out what his new employer did to the mother of one of his children, and if he’ll leave, too. I hope for LW’s sake that they’re able to get a new job quickly that isn’t full of bees.

    1. Not a lawyer butt*

      This is what I’m wondering…considering his reaction to her resignation I’m wondering if he knows about any of it.

      My fanfic ending to this is that he is told and resigns over it in a fashion that could have fit into the bridge burning open thread.

      The real ending is up to LW, and I fully support whatever decision they take. I can definitely understand just keeping your head down and forgetting this place exists (while also hoping they all step on a Lego every day for the rest of their long, loooong lives).

      1. Minimal Pear*

        I was thinking OP might want to consider telling him, in case this impacts his job as well. It seems less likely, because I suspect there’s some sexism at play here, but he might want a heads up in case people are being weird around him.

        1. learnedthehardway*

          Agreeing. The company’s response is just reprehensible!! They richly deserve to be sued for their behaviour.

          And also – none of this is Jacob’s fault or responsibility – he didn’t know he had a child, despite the best efforts of the OP to inform him. And he should be aware of what the company did to the OP, if only so that he is able to protect himself and make decisions in his own best interests. If that happens to be leaving almost immediately, well, the company would deserve that.

        2. HowDoesSheDoItAll?*

          Yes, I’m struck by the sexism of it all. It’s like a Scarlet Letter situation. She’s bullied into leaving, he gets to keep a job he hasn’t even started yet.

        3. Not a lawyer butt*

          On the one hand I hope she does, but considering how absolutely bananas the company handled things before I do not trust them not to stir up further drama and I 100% support LW if they decide they’re not up to that.

      2. Observer*

        This is what I’m wondering…considering his reaction to her resignation I’m wondering if he knows about any of it.

        I don’t really think that this means anything. It’s easy to wonder if she resigned just because of not wanting to work with him. I think it’s just him being a reasonable person realizing that his showing up seems to have disrupted people’s lives in unexpected ways. Not that he could have prevented it, but it’s still good that he acknowledged that.

        But because of that, it’s quite probable that he doesn’t know what actually went down.

        1. FrivYeti*

          On the other hand, given that we know that OP’s former HR is prone to gossip, and there was a wild campaign of retaliation taking place, it’s very plausible that Jacob has gotten some hinted comments or odd statements that have led him to suspect that there’s more going on here than OP just resigning by choice.

          I would be particularly suspicious of would-be gossipers trying to ‘reassure’ him that everything’s fine because OP is gone, in a way that led him to be concerned that he cost OP her job in some way.

          1. Observer*

            I could see that. It’s just hard to read too much definitively into his statement, although in either case I would be surprised if he actually had real knowledge, rather than a suspicion.

      3. Typing All The Time*

        I think LW should tell him what happened to her because HR will tell Jacob their side of the story. And it will probably be fabricated as though they were “trying to protect” him.

      4. Goldenrod*

        It was fascinating how he was totally normal and cool about it, but HR went berserk like a spurned lover.

    2. LCH*

      i vote for also telling him exactly how the company reacted, not to make him feel bad, but so he knows what he is working for.

      1. Spring*

        Agree! He needs to know what the employer did to OP so he can decide if he still wants to work there.

        1. Spring*

          That came out wrong. I don’t mean to say that the OP needs to tell him. She should do whatever she wants/needs to do, including nothing.

    3. Liz the Snackbrarian*

      I wonder if Jacob is questioning his decision to start at the new job. Given that people started to spread rumors, it feels like he’s walking into a situation full of bees. I would also think LW’s employment attorney may have opinions on what LW should tell Jacob about her resignation. Given what an a-hole the compnay’s been so far, if I was LW, I might have concerns about being dragged back into things, depsite having left.

  6. starsaphire*

    Wow, OP, I am so sorry to hear that it played out this way at your work.

    Wishing you and your daughter the best.

  7. hi there*

    I think it’s regrettable how your company handled this situation. As Alison initially wrote, none of the three parties (you, Jacob, company) were aware of the situation. You did everything right, professionally and personally. They did you SO wrong and should have the day they deserve. Sending virtual hugs if you want them.

    1. J!*

      Agreed! They handled the situation in the worst possible way for everyone involved, and while I’m glad to hear that all has been smooth enough OUTSIDE the work piece, what a mess. Congratulations on hanging in through an awful experience, LW.

  8. Ultimate Facepalm*

    What horrifically terrible people at that company. I am so sorry you went through that. I know how it feels when the workplace leadership bullies you – it’s so stressful and awful. You did the best you could in that moment, and made the best decisions for yourself. Sometimes it just isn’t worth the fight, and that’s okay!
    I hope they all (except Jacob) step on Legos, and that you get a job with people as good as you.

    1. Sloanicota*

      There are just soo many extralegal ways a company can make you miserable, and it stinks when your only recourse is legal wrangling after the fact, which may not get you at all what you wanted (and particularly if you have to stay working there to get anything at all).

  9. Justme, The OG*

    Your old job suuuucks. May you keep living your best life. And your daughter has a great mom.

    1. Slow Gin Lizz*

      Agreed! I’m amazingly impressed that OP managed to go through all this BS without telling her daughter what was going on and why she finally resigned.

  10. Sara*

    I’m so sorry this happened to you LW. I hope your lawyer is still able to go after them for the retaliation, it seems extremely blatant and easy to prove. I’m glad that Jacob seems level headed even if everyone else is insane.

    I wonder why they reacted the way they did, especially since he hadn’t even started yet! That seems like such an extreme over reaction to information that should have only affected you and Jacob and perhaps changing your reporting structure. To immediately attack you and your character seems so wildly disproportionate to just a manager starting.

    1. bamcheeks*

      Honestly, my first thought is a serious case of misogyny. The automatic assumption that there was no world in which LW and Jacob could handle this like adults, that LW would “cause trouble”, and that Jacob must be protected from her.

      1. Slow Gin Lizz*

        Yes, this^! It’s got “scarlet letter” written all over it. (Disclaimer: I haven’t actually read the Scarlet Letter but I have a general idea what it’s about.) And this place doubly sucks by deciding their not-yet-started manager was more worthy of whatever “protection” they could give to the situation than their already-been-working-there employee. Bleccccch…..

        1. BubbleTea*

          I was thinking that too. LW must be PUNISHED for her transgressions! What a vile attitude.

        2. Pastor Petty Labelle*

          Makes sense since they wanted details of the relationship, including who initiated it. Apparently several years ago, OP seduced Jacob so that years later she could torpedo his chances of being a manager at his company. That’s some planning let me tell you.

          1. Slow Gin Lizz*

            Quite the long game, right? Also I forgot to comment on the fact that the company wanted the *details* on the relationship. Which…yeah, gross.

            1. Cyborg Llama Horde*

              The rest of it is bad. But that part… I can’t think of ANY situation in which details of an employee’s sex life should wind up in their personal file (and that includes the folks in duck club).

          2. Galloping Gargoyles*

            This was the part where my jaw dropped. I know some people that don’t even know what they’re doing today, let alone planning an entrapment for years down the road. And asking for the details is just so weird and has such a high ick factor!

            LW, I wish all the best to you and your wise daughter. You are such a good mom for handling this with grace and for taking the high road. I hope you find a wonderful position filled with equally awesome humans to collaborate with.

        3. SheLooksFamiliar*

          I thought ‘This is a freaking Scarlet Letter throw back,’ too. Lizz. I have the book and OP’s situation is similar to Hester Prynne’s, for all the worst reasons. I imagine someone at OP’s company believed she was clearly a wanton temptress who set her sights on the hapless manager…a man who was powerless in this situation because of OP’s schemes. OP clearly must not only be punished, but messed with in doing her actual job. Because that’s what an employer is entitled to do – nay, they are commanded to hand out punishment and teach OP a lesson in Staying In Her Place.

          That’s sarcasm, in case anyone wonders.

          OP, you are a great role model of strength and grace for your daughter, who sounds like she has a solid sense of herself. Shake off the dust of that awful place, there is a better employer in your future.

      2. Ellis Bell*

        Oh, absolutely! Yes the smell of the misogyny was very strong on these people. “How many times did … the relationship happen, huh?” Just gross.

    2. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      Yes, it’s baffling.
      Is Jacob so desperately important to the company that they’d smash anyone who might jeopodise his working for them? Unlikely.
      I don’t understand this.

      1. Zweisatz*

        And that would only be relevant if there was no one else on staff who could act as a manager to OP, which really??

      2. SHELIA, the co-host*

        This. He wasn’t even working for them yet when they started in with their retaliation scheme. There was no guarantee he’d work out in the role, but they were willing to push out a long-time employee over it.

        1. Just another manic Monday ...or Tuesday....or Wednesday*

          Yeah, I am totally at a loss with this…the fact that he wasn’t even there yet!! Like WTH? Perhaps it is a good thing OP has left because it this is the outcome of a situation nobody could have foreseen, there is no telling how they will react to anything that was actually job-related.
          And I don’t think OP owes him a duty to say anything about how the company treated her.

    3. Mopsy*

      Considering how wildly exaggerated their reaction was, it was baffling to me to hear that the union rep still said “you should have said nothing” after everything had gone down!

      1. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

        Especially the since the odds of people finding out eventually were super high. It’s basically just kicking the clusterfudge down the road, at best.

      2. Ann O'Nemity*

        I have to assume that the union rep knew that the company wouldn’t handle this well. I mean, the union rep advising “say nothing” in this situation is such a red flag about the type of employer this is. After watching the LW get screwed, the union rep basically said, “told you so.”

        1. Quill*

          And the union’s more constructive input on that would have been more “don’t say anything because this company sucks, you’ll need a lawyer and to start job hunting” instead of a contextless “say nothing, open yourself up to being accused of not disclosing this later”

    4. Snow Globe*

      I’m wondering if part of it may be that the LW had sought legal representation. Which makes no real sense, if there is a lawyer involved, they should be doubly careful to be above board. But in a dysfunctional environment, that could be viewed as a disloyal act and therefore LW has to go.

    5. Typing All The Time*

      Yes, especially for a mandatory and sudden drug test amid an important client meeting.

  11. Juicebox Hero*

    Good grief, HR at your former company sucks worse than a supermassive black hole, and those suck so hard they defy the laws of physics.

    But it sounds like Jacob is a stand-up guy, and your daughter sounds like a rockstar. She’s handling all this with an aplomb that a lot of adults wouldn’t. I’m glad you can take some time to detoxify and recover before you have to start job searching.

    1. Slow Gin Lizz*

      I agree that the people most affected by the situation (Jacob, daughter, OP) seem like really good people and I hope that all three of you find a way to move forward together. Best of luck, OP.

    2. Saturday*

      Yes! I’m sorry the people at work were so, so awful, but I’m glad Jacob is cool and that your daughter is doing well with this. Sorry you had to go through that, OP.

    3. Turquoisecow*

      Yeah I was gonna say I’m sorry that the company and the union both suck but I’m glad that Jacob himself is a cool guy and I’m glad he knows he has a cool daughter even if she doesn’t (yet?) want a relationship with him. It would have totally sucked if it turned out he was as much of an asshole as the company.

    4. Festively Dressed Earl*

      This. I was worried that Jacob would give LW a hard time (and hoping he’d be as reasonable as he turned out to be) but the way LW’s ex-company handled this is beyond awful. Kudos on handling this as well as you did, LW, and please update us in the Friday Good News when you get the amazing non-wasp’s-nest job you deserve!

  12. Sloanicota*

    I’m so sorry OP. Sadly I have often found that legal advice may not match up with real world experience – but in this case, it sounds like there was going to be trouble no matter what you did, so try not to beat yourself up too much. I hope you find a great new job. I suppose it’s too much to hope that Jacob takes everybody to task for how they treated you :(

    1. A Girl Named Fred*

      Agreed. The way OP phrased this part, “Even if you have all the legal support in the world, you can’t prevent someone from doing something illegal, you just have recourse afterwards,” is hammer-meet-nail accurate and how so many bad players get away with so much – because their victims can’t withstand the time and/or money it takes to survive the bad thing and then go toe-to-toe with the usually-much-greater resources of said bad player. It’s depressing how common it is to hear, “But that was illegal!” followed up with, “Sure, but I can’t afford to call them on it.”

      OP, it sounds like you did the best you could and always kept your daughter’s well being at the forefront of your mind, closely followed by your own. That’s something to be proud of, and I hope you bounce back from this tenfold. Wishing you and your daughter all the best!

      1. RVA Cat*

        These situations always make me think of Mike Birbiglia’s car accident story. He was right, but he had to eventually just move on.

  13. not nice, don't care*

    Good on OP for not forcing her daughter into a relationship she may or may not ever want. I always appreciated that my mom let me work out my own feelings/relationship with my birth father and his family, and that there were no ugly custody battles.

  14. Andromeda*

    Holy moly. Your former HR sounds horrific (and not even in a “sides with company and stonewalls you” way, in an “incredibly incompetent and seemingly looking out for their own interest in drama above all” kind of way. So no replies saying HR sucks in general!) Honestly, it’s good you’re out of that nightmare.

    People who aren’t LW, who deserves to have a long holiday with her kid and not have to answer our silly questions: what would a company’s rationale be for doing this?? It just sounds obviously ludicrous

    1. Sloanicota*

      It’s hard to know from here. Maybe it just painted OP with a “drama” brush and they lost all credibility/faith in her, which is foolish on their part. Maybe there were other small things brewing and this tipped them over. Maybe Jacob is a superstar they really wanted, and they felt they needed to clear out this potential conflict to keep him happy (I suppose it’s possible something about OP’s role made her hard to reassign) – I do often note that companies favor management/senior people far, far more than the workhorses below them, often in ways that don’t seem to make any sense.

      1. Lost academic*

        This really seems like someone in HR who either had a previous problem with OP or whatever and took it upon themselves to manufacture all of this insanity. But the company let it happen. I really want the name of the company.

    2. ee*

      Based on the mention of rumors of an affair, my guess is that someone in HR took OP’s (reasonable) decision to keep the details private as some kind of admission of guilt, and then engaged in a personal vendetta that had everything to do with their own feelings about affairs and nothing to do with the company’s best interests. I’m speculating, of course, but I really cannot think of an even halfway logical reason to think this was good for the company.

    3. Yes And*

      Alison did say in her initial response to OP that either she or Jacob would probably have to find a new job. Seems to me the employer came to the same conclusion, and unilaterally decided which one it should be. If I had to guess they chose based on rank, but sexism absolutely cannot be ruled out.

      Regardless, they handled it terribly. “HR” and “gossipy” are two words that should never appear in the same sentence.

      1. Sloanicota*

        She said one of them would need to *change jobs* which I’m pretty meant a new job/role at the same company (so they are not in a reporting relationship), not that one or the other of them would definitely need to resign/quit to a new company.

  15. Mr. Clean*

    I must be missing something but I don’t understand why any of this happened. Why was LW having Jacob’s child so significant and troubling that the company had to force her out?

    1. Quill*

      It really should not have been. All they needed was to make sure she didn’t report to him!

    2. Impending Heat Dome*

      Because she was going to report to him, which would create a conflict of interest and a possible power imbalance related to a sexual relationship.

      So apparently their way of navigating that tricky legal situation was to engage in a bunch of illegal retaliation until LW quit. Wow. I hope the LW gets some level of recourse.

        1. Myrin*

          Right? I’m completely flabberghasted by all of this!
          I mean, it’s possible that there was something about OP’s specific role that would make it tricky for her to report to someone else but really, there’s always a grandboss who could stand in or, like, a conversation with OP’s and their own lawyer who can surely help navigate this in a manner both legal and dignified. No need to create such an incredibly dramatic, stressful, and evil situation!

        2. Jiminy Cricket*

          Exactly! Their chosen villainous path was actually harder than doing the right thing!

          1. Miette*

            Right? It’s the vindictiveness that’s so shocking here. The guy hadn’t even started yet. My mind, it is boggling.

        3. MK*

          Not to defend the company, but it’s not a given that this would be simple. Some departments are unique in a company and there is only one manager that makes sense as a supervisor. If Jacob was head of Legal or IT, what other manager could conceivably supervise OP?

          1. Sloanicota*

            Yes, I don’t at all condone what the company did but there actually are places where reassigning someone is not very feasible (of course there’s still no way they had to push OP out).

          2. Charlotte Lucas*

            It sounds like the OP is a union member. There are usually ways to reassign a union member or options that are part of the contract.

            Somehow I don’t think things would have gone down like this if the OP has been, for example, Jacob’s brother-in-law (also a clear conflict of interest).

          3. Myrin*

            Jacob’s boss? Less practical for sure, since we know from the original letter that OP and Jacob are in the same field whereas Jacob’s boss might not be, but surely better than whatever this was!

          4. General von Klinkerhoffen*

            I’ve seen it happen that someone needs to leave and the employer kindly, proactively and collaboratively helps them find a new position – leveraging network, resume coaching, good recommendations/references. In fairness this was once for logistical/geographical reasons, but I’ve also known “no place here for what they’re good at” reasons eg redundancy (layoffs).

          5. Hush42*

            This. The company handled this very very poorly on all counts. But I am not really following all the comments that assume reassignment was an obvious option. Granted I work in a still on the small end- medium size company. There is only one manager for each job function here. If one of my team members needed to be reassigned they would end up needing to do something much different than they do now. Even if we made them “officially” report to my manager instead of me but in the same role, they would still have to work extremely close to me and there would be no way to separate their work from the rest of the team thereby leaving me still responsible for their job performance.

            That being said this was a hard situation but the company seems to have gone “We have all these not super great options… hmmm lets pick this other one, which is the worst possible option in the entire world”.

        4. Turquoisecow*

          I mean we don’t know how big the company is and if that would have been possible – maybe she works in llama grooming and it’s a small department with only one llama grooming manager, so she’d have to switch to camel feeding if she wanted to remain employed, (or he would) which is a different specialty she’s not qualified for.

          But they could have negotiated a long severance/settlement type deal, offered to help with the job search, etc, other sorts of things that companies do when they mutually decide that it’s not gonna work anymore for whatever reason.

          1. Saturday*

            Agreed. Switching managers isn’t always an easy thing. But there was no reason for them to be so terrible.

      1. Ellis Bell*

        Yeah they took OP’s heads up about potential legal danger and ran headlong into it. It’s like trying to warn lemmings about a cliff.

    3. HonorBox*

      He was going to be her boss and he didn’t know of the child. That clearly is a problem in a reporting structure. But not the huge problem the company made it out to be.

    4. Juicebox Hero*

      It shouldn’t have been a big problem at all; all that needed to happen was make sure she didn’t report to Jacob. It was just horrible management and horrible HR making her life a living hell for daring to have a sex life, which is apparently an unforgivable sin when it’s a woman doing it.

    5. bamcheeks*

      I posted this above, but I think it’s misogyny. “LW says she has a baby by Jacob; LW is going to start demanding money / childcare / something from Jacob; we have to protect Jacob; get rid of LW.”

      There are a lot of people who see every interaction between men and women as a conflict, and the idea that LW and Jacob could handle something like this in a way that was kind to each other and LW’s daughter genuinely doesn’t occur to them.

    6. MK*

      I don’t think they even knew about that. OP says she disclosed their relationship, not that she told them about the child. As for why it was significant, they couldn’t both be working as boss and employee while having this history. Practically speaking that means either Jacob or OP would have to be reassigned; if that wasn’t possible, one of them would have to go, and the company didn’t want it to be Jacob, either because of business reasons or misogyny or both. s
      So they pushed her out.

      1. amoeba*

        Yeah, that’s how I read it! She didn’t even disclose the whole complicated situation, literally just the fact that they had had a short relationship/affair, like, 14 years back. Seriously. What?

        1. Charlotte Lucas*

          In some towns, nobody would be able to work for a company if their non- fraternization policy were that strict. I mean, that was a long time ago, and people move on.

        2. Quill*

          I think it’s very possible, given that OP’s kid is half chinese and the age of said kid versus approximate time of the relationship, that HR was able to fill in the dots about the child.

          … which may have had something to do with HR manufacturing drama. “Finding out” that OP has a child with Jacob (by virtue of OP declaring the relationship and HR being aware the child existed) may have been the internal excuse that these bonkers people needed to decide that OP was a problem that needed to go.

        1. learnedthehardway*

          Seriously!! The level of misogyny is off the scale!!!

          My sincere best wishes for whoever was involved in that decision to experience the level of stress, career, and financial damage that they dished out to the OP, and for as little reason.

      2. Shoot another shot, try to stop the feeling*

        Yeah… a lot of commenters are ignoring this aspect, there may have been no option to keep OP if Jacob’s seniority/skill level carried more weight (see also: Sylvia and her ex)

        1. MK*

          I agree with Dahlia, people can’t get past the borderline hysteria the company has exhibited. I can imagine a situation where Jacob is essential for the future of the company and assigning OP to another manager/department isn’t possible. It still doesn’t justify the immediately estreme hostile reaction. Is this an uber-conservative company and the mere mention of premarital sex was enough to ostracize OP? Is Jacob married to the owner’s daughter?

        2. I should really pick a name*

          If they didn’t want to keep her, they could fire her.

          Treating her terribly to get her to quit is bullshit.

          1. Orv*

            Sadly it’s pretty simple: If they fired her she’d get unemployment and their unemployment insurance rates would go up. If she leaves “voluntarily” she doesn’t get unemployment and it doesn’t count against them.

            1. SAS*

              Re-reading the original letter gives me the impression that LW is in Australia. So the system re: unemployment insurance doesn’t exist here. Which makes it even crazier!

        3. Observer*

          a lot of commenters are ignoring this aspect, there may have been no option to keep OP if Jacob’s seniority/skill level carried more weight

          Not really. It’s just that their reaction is ridiculous. If Jacob were that valuable and there really was no way to transfer her, they could have fired her (with severance). The fact that they chose not to says that they know that there were other options.

          Keep in mind that they “asked” her to resign, then demanded a detailed accounting of the relationship – the point of asking how many times they were intimate, etc. How does that make ANY sense in this context?

          What it comes down to is that they were not acting on *reasonable* and *rational* concerns, or in any manner that would actually protect the company. *That* is why people are flipping out.

          1. Enai*

            Yes, I can’t get past them asking how many times they had sex. What. How is that ever an appropriate thing to ask unless you’re the ladys gynecologist and trying to figure out a medical problem where that’s relevant? Why would they even think to ask that? I cannot even.

        4. The Unspeakable Queen Lisa*

          Wow. You are ignoring all of the illegal retaliation. And lack of professionalism. And lack of basic decency.

          “No option to keep OP” does not equal “torture and harass OP” or “write down the details of your sexual encounter”!

    7. I should really pick a name*

      It doesn’t sound like the company knows they had a child together, just a relationship.

      And yes, the company’s reaction seems way out of proportion.

    8. Ms. Yvonne*

      Same. If I read it right, her workplace was the total clusterfudge here? Like, because, why exactly (except obvi their preexisting derangement)?

    9. LW*

      Thank you for the support, everyone. I work in a very specialist role (hence the PhD), only about 15 people in the country do what I do and more than half work for my old company. Jacob has had an amazing career and my company paid a LOT of money to hire him away from another company that wanted him to start a new department doing the same work (which would have created competition for clients and for staff). I understand why they chose him, and I get that everything else they did was unacceptable.

      1. MsSolo (UK)*

        Any chance he could recommend you to his old company / introduce you to his network there?

        (just thinking of how nice the karma would be if you got to start the department and created that competition for clients!)

      2. Typing All The Time*

        LW, please don’t lower yourself. You did the right thing and they treated you horribly for it, as though you were going to ruin everything. Please talk to Jacob about what happened.

  16. CommanderBanana*

    It is amazing how many ways corporations try to punish women. The LW was pushed out of her job for what, having a daughter? And being honest and following the corporation’s own rules? It’s absolutely disgusting. Not that I want anyone to be treated like this, but why isn’t Josh being treated like a criminal?

    LW, I hope you got a massive severance package and if you didn’t, I hope you sue them into the ground.

    1. Expelliarmus*

      Yeah, between this and the post earlier today about the OP pushed out of her company due to her disgruntled and abusive ex, it’s way more common than it should be.

    2. duinath*

      yeah, i think the way they asked about “how many times” and “who initiated” stinks of misogyny and a frankly unhealthy love of gossip.

      i’m sorry they did this, and if you choose to sue or not, i hope for the best for you lw.

      1. CommanderBanana*

        I’m also completely gobsmacked that they would ask this! It was years ago before this person was hired, it’s not anyone’s business!

      2. MK*

        These kind of questions are usually asked during SA trials. In the context of an employee disclosing a relationship they are bizarre.

    3. restingbutchface*

      Bet they posted something inspirational on LinkedIn for International Women’s Day though.

      This is pure, unadultered misogyny.

    4. Ally McBeal*

      Not even for having a daughter. Nothing in this update indicates that she told her employer about her daughter, just that she’d had a prior relationship with Jacob many years ago when they were in grad school.

  17. Quill*

    Oh no LW, that’s one of the worst ways it could have gone with Jacob still being cool and reasonable. Sending support.

  18. Ashley*

    Your experience is why so many of us have learned not to trust HR. I hope your lawyer is able to kick *** if that is the direction you choose to take.
    I am glad to hear Jacob seems to be reasonable in all of this because through all of this your daughter is the most important piece.

    1. Garblesnark*

      If the LW resigned, as she says, there will be no legal a-kicking.

      But as someone who has been down that road, the money and schadenfreude wasn’t worth the stress-induced autoimmune disorder, in my opinion.

      1. HonorBox*

        But could there be? This sounds like the LW quit because of harassment and unfair treatment. They weren’t let go, but the actions of HR and the company sort of forced her hand.

        1. Garblesnark*

          The cases where someone being forced to resign allows for legal action are extremely rare. Quitting because of harassment is not one of them.

            1. Garblesnark*

              Constructive dismissal is when they basically fire you and just don’t say the words “you’re fired.” So that’s like if they take all your work away without firing you or strip you of your title and cut your pay to minimum wage. Harassment is not constructive dismissal.

              It’s OK that you don’t understand these laws; most people in the US spend their lives under the impression that workers are more protected than they are in this country.

              I’m not a lawyer and the LW has access to legal counsel who understands the fullness of the situation, which should be the source of any and all advice for how they proceed. However, I have engaged in legal action against an employer, and many of the protections people in this comment section are trying to advise the LW of simply do not exist in the form being referred to here.

              1. B*

                Again, depending on the jurisdiction and the specific facts, quitting due to harassment can absolutely form the basis of a constructive discharge claim. Intentionally subjecting an employee to conditions that would cause a reasonable person to quit, and that do in fact cause an employee to quit, can be constructive discharge. It’s rather patronizing to tell someone it’s ok they don’t understand the law while opining incorrectly about it.

              2. Dahlia*

                “most people in the US spend their lives under the impression that workers are more protected than they are in this country.”

                I’m going to put a reminder here the LW lives in Australia.

                US laws are not relevant to her.

      2. Kyrielle*

        Enh, there still could be. In this case I’d argue we’re looking at retaliation for reporting and constructive dismissal…and as they treated OP this way, unless they treat the new manager this way, it sure *looks* gender-based and thus related to a protected class.

        I’m not sure it’s *worth* pursuing the legal case, but I do think the legal case exists.

        However, if I were the LW and considering a legal case, I’d also ask my lawyer how likely it would be that Jacob would get pulled into the case to testify to his information/treatment by the company. Because that possibility might have to be factored in.

        1. Ess Ess*

          It is absolutely worth pursuing the legal case. She lost her job and income because of their illegal actions and endured deliberate slander at her job.

          1. Ann O'Nemity*

            I have a different perspective. It may not be worth it *for the LW* to pursue the legal case. That’s a lot of time and stress, and potentially financial costs as well. And it may have [unfair] consequences for the LW’s reputation and future job prospects, even if she wins the case.

            I get it – it sucks to watch employers get away with this crap! But a lawsuit may bring more pain than good to the LW.

          2. Observer*

            <i.It is absolutely worth pursuing the legal case.

            I think that this is WAAY to definitive. The only person with the standing to say something so clearly is the LW herself.

            Maybe it is worth it to her. But maybe not. For a lot of people being able to walk away is far more valuable than whatever they could win in a lawsuit and / or the damage and hassle they inflict on the people or company the wronged them.

            The LW should absolutely *consider* it, in consultation with her lawyer and therapist. But ultimately, she could decide either way, and that would be the totally right decision for her.

      3. Observer*

        If the LW resigned, as she says, there will be no legal a-kicking.

        Not necessarily true. It can be possible to sue over being forced to resign.

        Having said that, I agree that suing may not be worth the cost to the LW.

    2. Andromeda*

      The reason that people get warned not to trust HR is because, if there’s a conflict between an individual employee and the company, incompetent or mediocre HR will often choose to take a side and treat the employee unfairly. I think this is a fair enough reason to be a bit wary, if you have a conflict with someone senior, until you know the HR team at your particular company well.

      This is not that — this is flat-out cruelty that harms both the company *and* LW, and makes no sense. Unless you’re implying that individuals in HR teams are actively malicious, let’s not bring this up again.

      1. Pescadero*

        if there’s a conflict between an individual employee and the company, competent HR will almost always choose to take the side of the company. Fair or unfair doesn’t even play into it.

        1. Andromeda*

          (I’ve never been in HR, for context. I defer to you if you have.) Not every conflict needs a side taken on it, though. In fact, part of HR’s job — at least where I am — is to help manage morale and culture. Sometimes there are gonna be impossible situations, but “either you agree with X thing the company does or we will be cruel and unfair to you” isn’t productive, doesn’t foster a good culture and potentially opens them up to liability.

        2. Ellis Bell*

          This is not one of those situations where they chose the company over an employee; it’s one where they chose a man over a woman because they’re gross misogynists, and a love of witch hunts over a sensible solution because they’re drama loving jerks. This behaviour had nothing to do with their profession. If anything, they put their company at risk of legal action.

          1. Timothy (TRiG)*

            Yeah. At first glance you could say that they chose manager over subordinate, but when they’re asking for specifics of the sex, it’s far more likely that sexism is the bigger motivation. And, as you say, a love of drama.

  19. François Caron*

    Keep the employment lawyer. Even though you resigned, the pressure put against you was still retaliatory. You could still get a decent severance out of this.

    And so would Jacob if the employer goes after him.

  20. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

    I am so sorry this happened to you, LW. You did the right thing at every decision point and yet you were treated so badly. I’m glad you’re out of there and am sending you all the support and good vibes you and your wonderful daughter can possibly handle.

  21. Sparkles McFadden*

    I am so very sorry all of this happened to you, LW. It’s so terrible when people with power use that power just to cause harm. It’s senseless and malicious. It really didn’t have to be that way, yet they chose to do that to you. You handled everything with grace and strength.

    Thank you for writing in with an update. I wish you and your daughter all the best moving forward.

  22. Dust Bunny*

    “Our HR team can be gossipy”

    OFFS, that should not be a thing. This workplace sounds like a hot mess.

    1. Ama*

      Yeah that was the first red flag — if HR can not be trusted to keep things confidential, then they can’t do large parts of their job effectively.

      1. Employee of the Bearimy*

        This is true, BUT ALSO it seems to happen constantly. I sometimes think the most confidential roles accept the most gossip-prone personalities, because they love the idea of having the inside scoop at work.

  23. Six for the truth over solace in lies*

    Oh, gosh, LW. I’m so sorry that your company was horrible (and glad you got out). But I’m so grateful that Jacob himself wasn’t horrible.

    And I’m terrifically sorry that you got smacked in the comments by people who don’t understand that moving to a whole other country can make tracking someone down hard. I tried to find my own brother’s social media accounts (he lives in Korea) and couldn’t because they were extremely difficult to navigate without knowing Korean—he had to send me direct links. And that’s my brother who I’m on good terms with, not a fellow student and one-time hookup!

    I hope it all works out for you and your daughter.

    1. Expelliarmus*

      Also IIRC, this was long enough ago that it would have been harder than it is today!

    2. Shoot another shot, try to stop the feeling*

      And that’s before you get into the different alphabets. I might have a shot finding an Italian, but a Korean? Japanese? Wouldn’t even know where to start.

      1. Quill*

        I did a minor in spanish, had a job that required some communication in spanish, and read things that are in spanish relatively frequently, and I’m pretty sure I would not be able to definitively track someone down on social media in spanish. I lack the internet-specific vocabulary. I lack the cultural context to know which sites a peer would be on.

        And this is a language that shares an alphabet and a lot of root words! And a social media scene that has significant overlap with sites with primarily english speaking userbases!

    3. Ellis Bell*

      Mentioning that she could have found him by doing X and y at the point when she’s definitely now found him is helpful how exactly?! People found it more fun to be speculative and whip up blame than to be helpful. No matter how often Alison says to phrase comments so that they’ll be of help to the LW, there’s always a few. The updates yesterday had a LW gently hint some comments weren’t much use and it was hysterical to me when people responded with “Huh, the comments are supposed to help?! Just read Alison’s advice.” It was an Ask the Reader piece too. Of course the LWs are hoping for help in the comments.

      1. Six for the truth over solace in lies*

        That made me laugh. If you didn’t read the comments, literally the only thing there was in response was “Readers?”

        Plus, it works both ways: if you don’t want to hear whether your advice was helpful, don’t read the follow up.

    4. PotsPansTeapots*

      Those comments were ridiculous – people really projecting their own stuff onto Joseph and the situation.

  24. Garblesnark*

    My heart breaks for you, LW.

    As someone who has also been forced violently and illegally out of a company, I want to affirm your choice. I decided to stay to the bitter end so I could take action, and there was only more heartbreak that way. I wish I had done what you did – choose my own peace of mind, and go be where I was wanted.

    I will be wishing you and your daughter every good thing.

    1. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

      Resigning can definitely feel like letting the b*stards win, but getting yourself out of a situation that is exploding with bees counts as a victory.

  25. Nonanon*

    I’m sorry your company sucks llama excrement, but I’m glad to hear that Jacob himself is being reasonable. I wish you and your daughter the best, and hope all three of you have the relationships you want with each other.

  26. RunShaker*

    sending internet hugs to LW. I’m in disbelief that a company would do this and there was no reason for their abhorrent actions. I hope in some way, the company’s action come to light to public.

    1. Van Wilder*

      I’m soo saaad.

      I need to go re-read the “documentation carries a lot of weight” update again to fulfill my daily need for justice.

  27. HonorBox*

    OP, you sound incredibly thoughtful. You handled every step of this perfectly. I’m really sorry your company didn’t. If you’d have chosen to hide the information, their proper reaction wouldn’t have been as crappy as the reaction you got when you did the right thing.

    I also really appreciate that your daughter’s needs and feelings are being put first. It is great that she knows how to contact her father if she wants, but you’re doing a great job putting her first.

    1. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

      That was a really nice part of the update. I’m glad that Jacob is being kind about this, while he is working through his feelings about everything. And that everyone is letting the daughter take the lead in whether / when to meet.

      1. bamcheeks*

        Yes, that part is lovely. And I hope that when LW finds a new job and her awful ex employer fades into the past, the knowledge that her daughter has a person out there who seems kind and happy for her to take the lead on any kind of relationship is a little piece of contentment.

    2. SarahKay*

      Seconding all of this.
      OP, you did nothing wrong, your ex-company sucks like a sucky thing. Wishing you the best for the future.

  28. Beth*

    Shoot, LW, it sounds like you did your best in a very challenging situation and still had it blow up in your face. I’m sorry you had to deal with all of this. I’m glad it sounds like you, your daughter, and Jacob are on the same page and not gearing up for a custody battle or other serious family consequences. And I hope you find a new job soon!!!

  29. Circus Monkey*

    You must work at the same place with the women who found out the she was related to the CEO through an ancestry test and was later pushed out!…..Because I can not believe there are at least two places like this!

    1. Ama*

      I think there is a certain type of person who when confronted with a delicate situation like this decide to punish the person who brought it to their attention because they think “if [person who notified me about this] just goes away I don’t have to deal with this any more.”

    2. EvilQueenRegina*

      CEBro was from Texas (made a big thing about it on his website), the original letter from this one where the OP commented said this happened in Australia. While I thought of that one, they do seem to be in different countries.

  30. RetiredAcademicLibrarian*

    If Jacob finds out what the company did to the letter writer (and with a gossipy HR, that is definitely possible!), I hope he immediate finds another job and leaves them in the lurch.

    1. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      Tell him what they did, just so he knows the kind of people he’s working for; how they viciously endangered the financial wellbeing of his daughter and her mother

      1. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

        100%. If they did it to the LW, there’s no reason they wouldn’t be awful to Jacob, too, if they felt like it. This was a situation where nobody did anything wrong and leadership chose to mess around with the LW’s pay and benefits, rather than working through it like reasonable people.

        To paraphrase Scotty from Star Trek IV: Captain, there be bees here!

    2. kiki*

      It’s wild to me that the company jumped in and made the assumption they should “protect” Jacob over LW AND that protecting Jacob looked like antagonizing the mother of his child. They risk losing both LW and Jacob now, honestly.

  31. Jiminy Cricket*

    That’s horrific. You showed grace and strength, and I’m sorry they put you through it. I can’t even imagine what was going through HR/leadership’s minds that made them think bullying and mind games were the way to go.

  32. fine-tipped pen aficionado*

    It sounds like you navigated this as well as any human possibly could and much better than most (including me) would. Sending you and your daughter all the love and support! You sound like a great mom who has a great relationship with her kid.

  33. TeapotNinja*

    I hope your lawyer will take those asshats to the cleaners and you live happily ever after with the large settlement you deserve out of this.

  34. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

    Since your former company is run by a bunch of jerks, it sounds like there wasn’t any real possibility for a good resolution with them, no matter what you did. Jerk people are going to do jerk things.

    Yes, you told them and things went horribly wrong. But I’m certain that if you hadn’t told them, things would have gone horribly wrong anyway, when they inevitably found out. These jerks were not willing to be fair and reasonable when they faced a situation that was complicated and messy, but was no one’s fault.

    1. Observer*

      Since your former company is run by a bunch of jerks, it sounds like there wasn’t any real possibility for a good resolution with them, no matter what you did. Jerk people are going to do jerk things.

      This! 100%. Unfortunately.

      LW, you did the right thing. And you don’t even need to play the “what if” game. There was never going to be a good outcome with this HR.

  35. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

    This dreadful sabotage and persecution of the OP by her employer is why some people just keep quiet about things they ought to report.

  36. Typing All The Time*

    OP, you handled this with grace and dignity and I’m glad that Jacob is supportive and open to having a relationship your daughter. Is he aware of how you were treated by this company?

  37. HolyGuacamole*

    God that sucks! It’s wonderful that Jacob was such a class act – I guess one positive way to look at this is that jobs are always transient while in some form or other you will always be linked to the father of your kid, so at least it was the more permanent relationship that ended up with a good result. Your HR department are still petty and obnoxious pillocks though.

    1. Jennifer @unchartedworlds*

      Yes! Good dad and bad ex-job is much better than the other way round!

      Respect to both LW and Jacob, and no respect to whoever at the company was doing that ridiculousness.

    2. Blue Horizon*

      I was thinking the same thing. Also, daughter now has his contact details, knows that he is a decent guy, and will presumably contact him at whatever point in her life she feels ready. That’s a huge win, compared to never knowing at all. It’s a pity you had to go through all that hell to get there, but once that’s all behind you, you are still coming out of this situation ahead.

  38. M2RB*

    OP, I’m so sorry your former employer was so horrible. May they individually and collectively have the life they deserve (which will include stepping on Legos and hitting every red light ever and electronic devices not retaining charge and getting tickets every time they drive and never being promoted and being pulled for tax authority audits annually at a minimum).

    For what it’s worth, I am really proud of you for doing the Right Thing even when faced with such blatant harassment and discrimination. The way you describe handling the situation with Jacob and your daughter is commendable, and I’m so glad to read that they are both responding reasonably. I admire you for protecting your daughter from the work disaster.

  39. By the lake*

    Wow I’m so sorry your employers are…terrible people. I can’t think of enough bad words right now. Also sorry you got trashed in the original comments. Sounds like you did your best at all stages for you and your daughter and, despite this horrible experience with your employer Jacob now knows about his kiddo and, is a sane responsible adult. I hope you end up with an enormous settlement and a new job with gobs or money.

  40. restingbutchface*

    I thought I was too cynical to be shocked by anything anymore. I was wrong.

    OP, I am in awe of your grace. I’m wishing you and your daughter all the joy in the world.

  41. Shenandoah*

    OP, thank you so much for this update!! I echo everyone’s comments about the absolutely terrible way your employers “handled” this. I hope you feel proud of the clearly excellent parenting you have done. I also hope that you find a fabulous new job and that the family stuff settles in whatever way feels right and comfortable. I’m so glad that at least Jacob was a reasonable human here.

  42. Somewhere in Texas*

    I hate everything about what happened to you via work, BUT I am happy you finally have a contact line with Jacob. This wasn’t a big deal for your daughter, but now she has medical information (big bonus!) and contact information if she ever wants it.

    I hope all levels out for you, and this doesn’t keep you up at night.

  43. My gast is flabbered*

    I… wow. Someone in HR must have some baggage for them to react this way. This is more bananas than even Bananas Gorilla would know what to do with. I feel like I just read a story about someone derailing an entire train because there was an unexpected switch ahead.

  44. wtaf machine*

    they did ALL that before Jacob even knew?! wtf? how? this is the most ass backward way of handling anything ever. people sleep together in college-sometimes children are borne from that, quelle horror i guess? my lord almighty. Can you say what kind of field it is? My gut is saying its a very conservative field… I work in social work and while it may be like, gossip for staff, it wouldnt be an offense to this level! I am so happy you are doing well as is your daughter. Jacob handled with aplomb as well!

  45. Knittercubed*

    This is so ugly, yet if I think about it, it’s how my last couple employers would have handled it. Over my 50+ year career, I’ve seen a lot of HR eye openers. Especially in private industry, whatever HR exists CYA’s the company interest.

    When I was a new manager, I had HR call me about “how I wanted the EAP records” on the people I supervised. The actual treatment records. I was horrified. There was zero attempt to make these confidential. Since then it’s been hard for me to look at HR without a lot of baggage.

    1. Moi*

      WHAT? That is a thing? I’ve never had HR offer to give me EAP information on anyone in my reporting line.

    2. I Have RBF*

      When I was a new manager, I had HR call me about “how I wanted the EAP records” on the people I supervised.

      What. The. Everloving. Fuck??

      IMO, the only thing that HR should have EAP data on is aggregate statistics on company wide usage. Certainly nothing with names or what resource.

      Even if they had unacceptable level of detail, they shouldn’t offer it to managers!

    3. 1LFTW*

      OH MY GODS.

      And yet, I have a friend who was pushed out of an organization after someone in the org’s EAP basically mischaracterized something she’d told them. It was supposedly confidential, of course.

      1. Bananapants Modiste*

        Which is I adamantly refused when a supervisor tried to make me go for a wannabe therapy at something similar to company EAP (third party organization, not in the US). They could not confirm confidentiality towards the company, so I bowed out.

  46. ChattyDelle*

    Dear LW: while I’m grateful of your update, OMG this is a nightmare. How horrible of your workplace. that was a nightmare* and I think you should be very proud of yourself for walking out with you head held high. On a side note. both Jacob and your daughter are really cool people.

    (*I think I would have been throwing up every morning wondering what they were going to do next)

  47. Marta*

    I’m confused about why they asked you to resign in the first place. So what if you had a prior relationship with the new manager – why would that lead them to push you out? Not reporting to him, yes of course.

    Unless they thought you were lying (for what purpose though?) , or maybe more likely Jacob was told and it was his idea, even though he played dumb

    1. Shoot another shot, try to stop the feeling*

      There may not have been another department/manager for OP to go to.

      1. allathian*

        Yes, this. And they apparently headhunted Jacob from a competitor (the LW has commented elsewhere), so even though he hadn’t started yet, they had a vested interest in him.

        That said, a decent company in a situation where they had a possible conflict of interest between a manager and a report in a niche field where the reporting structure couldn’t be changed, they would’ve laid her off with severance.

    2. Observer*

      It’s a lot more likely that they thought she was lying than that they told Jacob and he suggested this.

      The most likely thing is that they did *not* think anything reasonable at all. Because their behavior makes no sense at all. It’s horrible, but also seriously stupid.

      1. Marta*

        It just seems completely unnecessary, it’s not like this big revelation was going to take down the company

  48. RCB*

    I know you are exhausted from all of this and want to just put it behind you, but PLEASE take legal action. Your case is so open and shut and they need to be held accountable, because if they aren’t then they will do this to the next person. Change happens when it’s forced, and sometimes we have to be the ones to force it, because there are others in the same boat but their case isn’t as well documented and it’s so tough to get any sort of justice, so while I hate to throw more responsibility on your shoulders I really think you need to pursue it for the sake of all the others who will face this injustice if you don’t.

    1. Garblesnark*

      LW has a lawyer already who can tell them what the case is like. Suing an employer is grueling, exhausting, painful, and traumatizing. The LW should only do it if they want to go through that.

    2. Inconvenient Indian*

      This is a really inappropriate comment. The LW has more than enough on their plate and it is more than fine for them to leave the fight to others. It is in no way acceptable for you (or anyone else) to pressure the LW to take on significant financial, legal, emotional, and mental costs just to satisfy your overly developed sense of justice / vengeance.

      If you want to “force change”, save your inane comments and work on it yourself. There is plenty to do in your own area. The audacity of this crap….

      1. Marta*

        Agree that the OP has no obligation to do anything, and you’re right about the all the costs of a lawsuit.

        But I don’t think it’s such an outrageous suggestion – they do have a lawyer after all.

      2. RCB*

        Your unhinged rant is quite…..something. Sounds like you have some issues you are working through, I hope you have the help and support that you need.

        For what it’s worth, I am currently suing a former employer for discrimination, and making sure they are held accountable because it is so important to do so, so my money is where my mouth is, but even if it wasn’t it is in no way inappropriate to tell they OP that they should take action, this is an advice column, they came here for advice.

        1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

          You’re grossly underestimating the impact of legal action. I’ve turned whistleblower and attempted to report a r*pist to the police (they didn’t believe me – they rarely believe the victims) and I can tell you I do not have the wit to go through either again.

          It’s *nice* if someone has the strength and resources to fight a legal battle but it’s also not a directive. The fact that the man who attacked me never got arrested doesn’t mean that I’m responsible for the other victims he’s bound to have encountered over the years because I refused to fight any longer.

  49. Double A*

    I can’t believe that telling your daughter’s father about her existence was the least dramatic and messy part of this.

    1. Justme, The OG*

      It’s because both OP and Jacob are adults and act like it. Her former employer, not so much.

  50. Not Tom, Just Petty*

    This is on a par with the person who discovered the CEO was a half brother or cousin or something and was also silently accused of extortion and being an embarrassment to the firm.
    And OP was part of a union and was still forced out.

    Alison, AAM needs a “kafkaesque” collection.

  51. Hashtag Destigmatize Therapy*

    Kudos to you, Jacob, and your daughter for handling this shocking situation with grace, dignity, and kindness. Your employer, on the other hand, sucks so hard it doesn’t even emit Hawking radiation.

    1. Pterodactyls are under-cited in the psychological literature*

      “sucks so hard it doesn’t even emit Hawking radiation”: thank you for this beautiful phrase, I am stealing it

  52. Parenthesis Guy*

    It’s interesting that the Union Rep told the LW not to say anything. I suppose it’s possible that from their perspective they felt that there was nothing that the LW could gain by saying anything and that they could potentially lose everything. But on the other hand, I wonder if they knew that HR would have such an unhinged reaction to this. If so, I wonder if this has happened before.

    1. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      Keeping quiet is indeed the best policy if you know HR/higher management are vicious brutes who drive out employees on a whim, even when your issue is completely different to anything that has arisen before.

    2. 1LFTW*

      I’m a shop steward with my union, and my money is *definitely* on the Union Rep having seen HR become unhinged.

  53. Well wisher*

    I wish you so many good things in the future. You have clearly done your best for your family and situation, and it made me sad to read that any commenters were disparaging. I hope you find a better workplace, but most importantly, peace, soon.

  54. Astronaut Barbie*

    Oh man, I am so sorry. What I am stuck on is, it doesn’t sound like you told them about your child, just the relationship. It sounds to me like they were just trying to gather a lot of gossip fodder. And this is remarkably unprofessional.. i mean, asking you the details of your encounters? I feel like that borders on something illegal right there! I am sorry you lost your job but happy you resolved it with Jacob and happy you are away from those awful HR people!

  55. Astronaut Barbie*

    Oh man, I am so sorry. What I am stuck on is, it doesn’t sound like you told them about your child, just the relationship. In that case they WAY overreacted! It sounds to me like they were just trying to gather a lot of gossip fodder. And this is remarkably unprofessional.. i mean, asking you the details of your encounters? I feel like that borders on something illegal right there! I am sorry you lost your job but happy you resolved it with Jacob and happy you are away from those awful HR people!

  56. Spreadsheet Queen*

    I can’t even. This is horrific! A GOOD company would never have handled things this way. If the conflict of interest could not be worked around (transfer, different supervisor, etc) then the path is not to make an employee so miserable they resign, but to negotiate an orderly transition out, severance, and promise of a favorable employment reference (and probably some sort of promise from you not to take any actions against them, aside from filing for unemployment if you had not found a new position by time severance ran out). Instead, they risked potentially expensive legal action AND f’ed with your ability to get unemployment. (And probably won’t be a great reference now either.) I wish you much luck in finding a new BETTER position with a good company, as well as in your personal life with the new development of having found your daughter’s father.

  57. Czech Mate*

    The work stuff is awful, but I’m so glad to hear that a) your daughter is handling it okay, and b) Jacob was so gracious and said all the right things. Good luck in your job search, OP!

  58. Don't Send Your Kids to Hudson University*

    LW, I’m so sorry about how all of this played out. You didn’t deserve to be treated that way. Major kuddos for how you handled everything as a mom though, it sounds like you were able to maintain your daughter’s privacy and were able to give her the choice to meet her other parent if a day ever comes when she would like to and feels ready. That counts for quite a lot.

  59. A large cage of birds*

    LW, I’m so sorry for your shitty work update. I’m astounded that they treated you so poorly and pushed you out.

    But I’m glad that Jacob is being reasonable and that your daughter is doing ok. I’m glad you can take your time but I hope you find a new job soon. Wishing you and your family the best!

  60. I'm just here for the cats!*

    “they insisted on a statutory declaration about the relationship with Jacob stating what happened, when it happened, how many times it happened (??) and who initiated it (??).”

    This seems to be the most banana crackers thing ever! They are acting like this just happened and not years ago, when they were in college and not employed. It would be one thing if they were having a relationship now and just disclosed it. I could see MAYBE asking how long they had been in a relationship. But my god these people are nosy and sexist.

    I’m so sorry you went through all of this, and that they started rumors that you had an affair with a manager (you didn’t you had a one night stand with a guy in college). Please make sure that your career reputation is not harmed by this. And I hope you can sue the pants off of this.

    1. Kesnit*

      “They are acting like this just happened and not years ago, when they were in college and not employed. It would be one thing if they were having a relationship now and just disclosed it.”

      I had the same thought. I kind of wonder if someone in HR got confused and thought OP was currently (or very recently) having an affair with Jacob.

      1. Kesnit*

        And to be clear, I am NOT saying that HR thinking the affair was recent and ongoing in any way justifies what they did!

      2. r.*

        Even if it was a current affair, you can’t just go around and ask employees when and how often they had a bit of fun in the sack.

        Hereabouts there is no legal way for the company to use that information to make decisions, hence asking for it — besides of course being incredibly inappropriate — could create a presupposition that the company intended to discriminate based on their employee’s sex life, and all of a sudden you’re in a court and the judge is not asking the plaintiff to prove their allegations and instead ask you to provide evidence you didn’t intend to.

        That’s the sort of legal jeopardy HR ought to help the company avoid — not create situations exposing the company to it!

    2. Phony Genius*

      Of these, the only relevant question they should be asking is when it happened, which is long before Jacob was ever employed there.

  61. Tisserande d'Encre*

    LW I’m so so sorry that your company treated you so abhorrently. I’m really glad that Jacob was decent about it—offering the medical history is great and you deserve at least one part of this situation being “easy”. You sound like a great mom. I wish you and your daughter all the best.

  62. Observer*

    LW, you say that “I wish I’d held up better under the pressure but it was all just too much

    I just want to say that there is absolutely no shame in not holding up to this kind of targeted harassment. They brought a battery of guns to a picnic – it’s no wonder you cracked!

  63. Maleficent2026*

    LW, I’m so sorry this happened to you, it’s horrible! I agree with the many people who are saying to tell Jacob about how the company treated you. He should know the environment he’ll be walking into there, because I’m sure people will still be talking about it by the time he starts there.
    But I’m glad there’s no drama involving your daughter! At the end of the day, that’s the most important thing.

  64. dustycrown*

    So they pushed you out because of the prior relationship/child for someone who wasn’t even working there yet? And there were no repercussions for the father, just you? (Not that there should be repercussions at all. There shouldn’t. But obviously your former employer has some sort of weird objection, and well, it takes two people to make a baby, so why does their narr0w-mindedness only create problems for the mother?) Wow. You definitely need to pursue that with an employment lawyer.

    1. Phony Genius*

      Now that you say it, that’s something that’s been floating in my head since the first letter was published. There’s something that bothers me about a man doing something with a woman that can result her getting pregnant, and then disappearing completely before making sure that she is not. Jacob has done everything right in the present situation, but I feel like he did more to create the situation than the LW all those years ago.

      1. I'm just here for the cats!*

        I don’t blame anyone in the situation (except the HR people). But maybe if youre going to have a one night stand and leave the country men should at least leave their email address.

        1. Phony Genius*

          I think your solution covers what I was trying to say. A working e-mail address or some kind of contact, like a mutual friend, could have avoided all this.

      2. Dahlia*

        People are allowed to have casual sex and then move.

        This is very weird wording that raises red flags for me.

        1. Andromeda*

          Yep, chiming in here to reaffirm that this is totally normal. Dude actually sounds like a pretty cool guy.

          1. Andromeda*

            [this = having a one night stand and then moving away. NOTHING about LW’s ordeal at her job is normal.]

  65. TheBunny*

    I can’t lie, I was hoping for an update on this one.

    I’m sorry, LW, for how your former HR team treated you. That’s just awful. But I’m glad Jacob was as reasonable as you expected.

    Kudos to you for navigating this with grace.

  66. Goody*

    While I’m happy to hear that the personal situation with Jacob is working out fairly well, and that the door is open for your child to meet her other family, I am absolutely incensed at the crap the former employer pulled.

    Could this be considered wrongful termination? Yes, you did resign, but it feels like you did so under extreme duress and after suffering significant malicious activity. Personally, I would be continuing to pursue legal action against them.

  67. Not The Earliest Bird*

    To quote one Ms Gwen Stefani,
    “This shit is bananas.

  68. e271828*

    The company’s reaction to this was so over-the-top puritanical-hysterical that I wonder whether some kind of racism or other bias is also present.

    I do think that Jacob should know that his employer drove out a good employee pre-emptively. If he’s fine with that, well, there’s some information LW needed to have.

    1. LJ*

      It sounds like Jacob potentially moved back to a foreign country to take this job, and possibly uprooting his new family if there is one. He doesn’t need to be “fine with that” to need a job to survive and be allowed to live in the country, especially jobs at a manager level which may not grow on trees for non-white non-locals.

      1. Bruce*

        I think he needs to have his guard up but I would not expect him to immediately resign out of some sort of shame or duty. This is definitely a bad way to start a job, though!

  69. Astronaut Barbie*

    Ehh I commented already about your work, but I am compelled to comment about the personal side also. I think the way you handled all of this with your daughter was so wonderful. The fact that you’ve always been honest with her about her father, and have given her the room to make her own choices now is the best part of this odd situation. You are a great mom!
    I wish you and your daughter and also Jacob, all the best.

  70. NerdyPrettyThings*

    “And she doesn’t even know about the work clusterfudge.” No matter what else comes of all this, OP, this is a top-tier Mom move. I’m sure it was hard to keep all that stress and anxiety hidden from her, but protecting her childhood and her peace was absolutely right. You’re a rock star mom.

    1. Expert Paper Pusher*

      Yes, this 100%! When it comes to pursuing legal action or whether to tell Jacob how things played out with the company, only you can decide whether it’s the right choice for you. No matter what you decide, you’ve done an amazing job for not letting all of this come down and hurt your daughter.

  71. Managing While Female*

    Man alive! It’s like you lived out a real life version of The Scarlet Letter! Sounds like you handled it in the best way you possibly could have.

  72. H.Regalis*

    Even if you have all the legal support in the world, you can’t prevent someone from doing something illegal, you just have recourse afterwards.

    This is a really good, concise way of putting it. It sucks that this is true, but you worded it very well.

    I’m sorry all of this happened to you.

  73. Liz the Snackbrarian*

    LW, I’m so sorry for all the stress you’ve had to undergo. I hope you’re able to take time to process and heal, and that moving on to a different workplace ends up being a positive. Based on what you’ve said about your daughter, she sounds like a thoughtful, mature kid, and you’re a fabulous mom for offering to get her into therapy. I’m throwing good vibes both of your ways.

  74. r.*

    Well — there’s a line between legitimately trying to defend the companies interest, and having no personal integrity or self-worth whatsoever. What a cowardly display of muppetry.

    I also feel bad for Jacob, or, well, basically anyone who works for that company.

  75. spuffyduds*

    I am so sorry all of the work crappiness happened to you. But you have behaved admirably, Jacob thankfully sounds like a stand-up guy, and your daughter sounds AMAZING. Kudos to you all.

  76. fhqwhgads*

    Yay for reasonable Jacob. Boo to everyone else in management at that place.
    Glad it seems you’re in a tolerable place.

    1. Observer*

      Which has nothing to do with the situation. HR’s behavior really didn’t do anything to protect management. All it did was open them to a law suit.

      I’d point out that for decades standard practice in the aftermath of medical disasters / poor outcomes was to forbid any of the staff involved to say anything or even to express sorrow over the bad situation. Because that was seen as “protecting” the practitioner / hospital. But it turns out, and there is a ton of evidence at this point, that when doctors and staff actually apologize and / or express sympathy, they are LESS likely to be sued, and it’s generally not seen as proving anything negative about the practice.

      Similarly, many *employer* side employment lawyers strongly advise their clients to treat employees well and with dignity, especially when you need to lay them off or fire them. Again, because people who are treated reasonably are less likely to sue. And they are also less likely to win if they do sue.

      And that’s talking about a situation where there is clearly something to protect the company from. Here, the company did not have some sort of “danger” that they needed to “protect” themselves from. And they were not just cold and unsympathetic. They treated the LW with venom and acted in a manner that sounded more like gossip mongering than anything else.

      That is NOT how you “protect” your company!

      1. MollyGodiva*

        HR is protecting the managers from the consequences of their actions and at the same time increasing the liability of the company. I have seen companies do this, have to pay out large settlements, and the manager still does not face consequences.

    2. al*

      Irrelevant to this case, since here management actively insisted on endangering the employer.

  77. MCMonkeybean*

    Awful awful awful! A bit of relief at least once the letter made it clear that Jacob himself had nothing to do with OP being pushed out, so at least if the daughter does decide to pursue a relationship with him in the future they won’t have that hanging over them.

    Sorry they butchered everything so badly, and good luck with whatever you decide to do next!

  78. Mango Freak*

    Still baffled that in 2024 so many commenters’ first concern was a woman’s duty to a man who slept with her once and moved away forever.

    Not implying HE did anything wrong, either–hooray for consensual one-night stands! But sex, very notably, sometimes results in conception. If a man wants to be kept abreast of things, he can make a little effort himself. Write an email or your *actual full name* on a scrap of paper.

    A person faced with an unexpected pregnancy has enough to deal with. She/they doesn’t have to track down someone who’s not in their life–and they certainly don’t have to satisfy a faceless bunch of commenters years after the fact???

    1. Mango Freak*

      *Correction: technically it was in 2023 that this was so many commenters’ first concern. Since then society has, no doubt, progressed.

    2. Mango Freak*

      (lol just watched an episode of Rick and Morty where someone has a one night stand with a pre-alphanumeric glyph and gives it a business card he knows it “probably can’t read” in case he impregnated it because he knows he needs to at least appear to “make an effort.”

    3. Manic Sunday*

      Thank you for this excellent point! If men feel they’re entitled to know about any pregnancy that results from their sexual activity, then they can make sure the people they have sex with know how to reach them (and let everyone else manage their own affairs). Clearly Jacob doesn’t think the OP failed to do enough or that she neglected a duty to him. It doesn’t sound like the daughter blames her, either. If OP’s actions were good enough for them, they should be good enough for the rest of us.

  79. Manic Sunday*

    The company’s reaction makes me want to SCREEEEEEEEAAAAAAMMMMMM

    Plan A should have been having OP report to someone else, and if that wasn’t possible for some reason, there were so many other ways they could have approached the situation besides slvt-shaming her and making her life miserable and *opening themselves up to a massive lawsuit.* For example, they could have made voluntary resignation more appealing by offering her a super generous severance package and glowing references.

    But no, that would be too rational. Too expedient. Too legal. Better go the chuckleheaded route instead.

    It’s all so wild and baffling, I have to assume all of it was just HR and upper management’s idea of Machiavellian fun.

    1. Manic Sunday*

      Sigh. Scream over. OP, I hope that the connection you and your daughter now have to her father (and her siblings! wow!) turns out to be such a big upside that it balances the scales. Glad to hear he’s the reasonable human being you remembered.

  80. Michelle Smith*

    Thank you for the update. I have thought about you and your daughter since your post and I’m glad to hear that you’re now okay. What a mess though. Screw those people at your old company, what an awful thing to do to someone.

  81. AAM fan*

    This is why I cringe a little bit every time the advice is “talk to HR.” I want to be clear that I’m talking about my specific situation and not trying to paint with a broad brush, but I worked at a company where HR was the nastiest, meanest, gossipiest group of people I had every encountered. A few examples:

    -HR staff member got very drunk at a work function and started sharing private information about coworkers for laughs
    -HR reassigned a man who had three separate woman complain about sexual harassment. The first two complained in meetings and were told that they would look into it, and then nothing happened. The third woman, having learned about what happened to the first two, wrote an email to HR detailing the harassment, which is the only reason why they took the tepid action that they did. (Because an actionable offense had been documented in writing.)
    -Protected known a known bully who was friends with a HR staff person for years. The bully would eventually be fired after the umpteenth report against them, but the bully had led to so many resignations at that point.

    Because of this, I will never go to HR. Sorry to all of the good HR people out there.

    1. allathian*

      Yes, the company’s horrible. But the LW seems to be in a reasonably good place and Jacob has been decent by forwarding his medical history and contact info to the LW and by letting the daughter decide when, or whether, to contact him. Unfortunately this could’ve been even worse if Jacob hadn’t been so decent.

  82. Bruce*

    LW, my heart goes out to you and your daughter. With regard to the former job, you should do whatever helps you move forward with minimum damage. Jacob sounds like a decent person, I hope he is able to move ahead too, though with the example of how this employer treated you I think he should keep his guard up.

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