Accused of Spreading Rumors

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about gossip: The new girl told the co-assistant manager that “some girl” told her that everybody who works there is a slut.

A week ago my company hired a new employee. At the end of the new girls first day, the co- assistant manager asked her how she liked it. The new girl told the co-assistant manager that “some girl” told her that everybody who works there is a slut. The co-assistant manager, upon hearing this and assuming it was me, called two other employees into the office and repeated this to them telling them I said it.I never said it and have not done anything more than give the new girl tips on working there. The whole thing has gotten to the point where the Head,manager asked the new girl to write a statement about it.

No one in management has said anything more to me. The co-manager and I have never gotten along because she yells and screams at people, makes rude and degrading comments to you in front of customers. The co-manager has even started a rumor that another employee had an affair with a manager resulting in the employee quitting. I have never allowed her to speak to me that way. I have previously brought up her behavior at a store meeting (in front of the Head-manager) that resulted in a confrontation between the co-manager and me. I feel like this is some sort of revenge. What should I do?

Signed, It’s Not I

Dear It’s Not I:

This tale reeks of schoolgirl gossip and fighting. It’s not the kind of workplace climate that’s good for employees and customers. Your co-assistant manager was not wrong to ask the new hire about how she liked it. The new girl was also within her right, however unwise it was, to say she was told “that everybody who works there is a slut.”

The co-assistant manager’s accusation that you were the one who said that could have been because the new girl had named you or described someone like you or it could be as you assert that the co-assistant falsely named you as revenge because of your previous run in with her. So what should you do?

Let me stress up front that you step back and look in the mirror, and if you in any way see that what you said to the new hire could be interpreted that “everyone who works here is a slut”, admit it and apologize. Don’t fight a lie with a lie.You are in a fight with your co-assistant manager. She has accused you as saying that it was you who made the slut talk. I assume you denied this in the meeting called by your co-assistant.

To resolve this she-said I-didn’t-say situation, your Head-manager apparently has requested a statement from the new girl in order to learn who said what. In short, your Head-manager has begun an investigation.

You must wait for what is learned, or you can report to your Head that your co-assistant manager accused you falsely in the meeting she called with three of your co-workers. That report should also be in writing, and since you are in a battle with the co-assistant manager, you can also make the case that you see this accusation as revenge.

You might also request an opportunity to voice privately explain why you feel this way. In the course of the next week or so, I predict that the in-fighting will intensify with more she-said I didn’t say, depending on what the new girl puts in writing. But the battle will larger than that if you choose to make it over your co-assistant manager’s performance; in your words: “because she yells and screams at people, makes rude and degrading comments to you in front of customers.

The co-manager has even started a rumor that another employee had an affair with a manager resulting in the employee quitting. I have never allowed her to speak to me that way. I have previously brought up her behavior at a store meeting (in front of the Head-manager) that resulted in a confrontation between the co-manager and me. I feel like this is some sort of revenge.” Accusations of slut behavior and slut talk indicate yours is a hostile work environment. Or hopefully it is just be girl-talk gossip. But equally, if not more harmful to the performance of your work group, is a co-assistant manager who yells and spread rumors.

What is for sure is that your Head Manager now should sort it out and should make it clear that what going on is not the kind of climate conducive to communication within your work group and that it distracts from delivering high quality service to customers. You are in a fight that hopefully you will wage in a professional rather than a hateful way.

You make it an open fight when you “brought up her behavior at a store meeting (in front of the Head-manager) that resulted in a confrontation between the co-manager.”Is it not time that this mini-war between you and your co-assistant should be ended? Isn’t it time that your Head-manager knock some heads together? How? He/she has some options–some which are overlapping:

· Quietly inform that your work group that slut talk, whoever said it, is not tolerated. · Discipline the co-manager if an investigation supports your accusations that she yells, started a rumor of an affair and now has accused you falsely. That discipline could range from a trial period that states she change her behavior or removing her from a position of authority.

· Engage all employed in a storewide team-building effort. That could entail

–Clarification of job duties,

–Rules about gossip such as don’t rules about slut-talk and other hurtful talk anyone employed

–Rules about how complaints are to be made and resolved between and among employees –Collaborative goal setting that ranges from cutting wasted supplies, wasted time, wasted energy and money to innovative ways to make your store more profitable. You have limited ability to win the fight. But you are not helpless.

I sense you have the guts and good sense to help this mini-war end. If you will scan more of our thousands of Q&As, you will understand anew that no one is employed to gossip. Employees are hired to work and that means they are there to make their workplace successful, not to waste time and badmouth. Each employee and manager’s challenge is to hammer out the give and take process that makes their operation run smoothly and effectively.

You now can allow this fight to obsess you or you can take it in stride; determined to see it through and end. You need not now bite your tongue. So think big, apply my signature advice: Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS. In you situation if means commitment to storewide success and interdependence, saving face and facing up to what isn’t what it can and should be.

William Gorden