Accused of Bullying

Question:

My 19 year old daughter works with her 21 year old boyfriend cleaning banks in the evening. A job became available and a friend of both of them said that she would do it however after a week or so she slipped a note in the boyfriend’s backpack saying that she loved him and not to tell his girlfriend (my daughter).

The boy confronted his friend at work and said he was not interested. The atmosphere at work became strained when my my daughter was told of the letter by her boyfriend.

The girl stayed off work for a few days then sent a letter to the manager stating that she was bullied by them both and has made it a formal complaint. While she was apparently being bullied she was socialising with them both and this looks like a woman scorned.

The supervisor has told my daughter and her boyfriend that they may have to go to court. The manager has now been informed by the complainant that she suffers from Assbergers syndrome. This is in fact true as they all met at a group for people with social problems. What can they do now? No bullying has taken place.

Signed,

Trying to Help


Answer:

Dear Trying to Help:

We aren’t attorneys and can’t provide legal advice, however we can give you some things to consider as you discuss this matter with your daughter and her boyfriend.

First, keep in mind that you are hearing one side of the situation. I’m not saying that your daughter and her boyfriend are not telling the truth, because they may be telling the exact truth. However, they may be editing details in a way that makes them look the best. That’s just human nature, especially when talking with a parent.

As you talk to them ask them to tell you about the things that made them think work was strained. What did she say and what did they say? What did she do and how did they react? You can bet the other girl has exact notes about what was said and done, so they should try to develop a similar set of notes.

I also think your daughter and her friend should be talking to the manager and asking for details about why they would need to go to court. Court is for a criminal trial and if what you say is all there is to it, it doesn’t appear that anything criminal happened. But, again, we’re not attorneys and we don’t know all the details. The manager may be saying negative things in an effort to help your daughter and her boyfriend realize how serious it COULD be, even though it isn’t to that point yet. Let’s hope your daughter and/or her boyfriend didn’t write anything unpleasant or leave any unpleasant texts or messages! That would be a problem.

I hope the boyfriend saved the note that was slipped in his backpack because that would be very helpful. At the least he should have a timeline of when he asked her to work there, when she put the note in his backpack and the notes mentioned above about what happened after that. He doesn’t need to write a long story, just a sentence or two to give someone a good idea of what happened and when.

They may find additional help by contacting the coordinator of the group in which they all participated. It could be that there is support and assistance available from that group or others. I’m sorry this is happening and wish there was a quick solution. However, given what you have said, it doesn’t appear there is evidence to prove the girl’s allegations. The best approach for your daughter and her boyfriend is to be cooperative by answering questions truthfully. They don’t need to volunteer a lot of opinions or thoughts about the situation, just answer questions. Their attitude should be that they are sorry this is happening, but they have done nothing wrong. They should especially keep their focus on doing good work. They should show that they are valuable employees, in spite of this situation that has been stirred up by an apparently unstable person.

Best wishes to you and them. If you have the time and wish to do so, let us know what happens.

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina had a thirty-three year career in law enforcement, serving with the Denver Police Department from 1969-1994 and was the Presidential United States Marshal for Colorado from 1994-2002. She provides training to law enforcement organizations and private sector groups and does conference presentations related to leadership, workplace communications and customized topics. Her style is inspirational with humor.