Should I Report What My Colleague Told Me?

A question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about whether or not to report that a coworker
was asked to make a false accusation of sexual harassment.

Question: A work colleague told me that my boss asked her to fake a sexual harassment complaint against another manager. He told her he would give her $4,000 now and $4,000 later, for a total of $8,000.

I asked her what she said and she told me “Oh my gosh, I was so shocked, I didn’t know what to do!” I told her to report it to someone higher, but she said no.

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Boss’s Daughter Seems To Think She Is The Boss

I was wondering what to do about my boss’s daughter. I have been here two years and was hired 2 months prior to her but she gets all the recognition for everything. My boss (her father) talks to customers and friends about how she handles his biggest account in the business and she is only 20 years old. However, she needs everyone’s help since she doesn’t know how to do it herself without messing up.

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What To Do About Employee With Roller Coaster Behavior?

Question: I have a staff member (Lets call her Darla) who seems to be on a roller coaster of emotions. Lately it seems like she’s had an attitude when coming in to work. Specifically, I posted a reminder announcement on our bulletin board about making sure to do these set tasks for your shift. She took it personally and made this “ugh are you kidding me?” remark. Other staff members have been forgetting to carry out these tasks as well so i wasn’t singling out Darla. Some staff have been forgetting and I felt it’s not fair not to address it when others are doing the job just fine.

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How Should I Handle Having Romantic Feelings For My Supervisor?

Question: I’m 29 years old, in a long term relationship. My supervisor is a few years older than me, also in a relationship. We’ve worked together for quite a while now. Over time, after working directly with him on my shift, and slowly getting to know him, I’ve found myself caring about him more than I would normally care. Also, I found myself slowly attracted to him because we share many similar interests and get along well. I noticed my feelings for him after realizing I blush around him and get shy.

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What Should I Do About A False Allegation?

A question to Ask The Workplace Doctors
about being falsely accused at work. 

What do you do when a disgruntled employee makes a very serious false claim/lie about you to IR which in turn communicates to HR and EEC officer?

Response: I may not have all of the initials in your question translated correctly, but I think my suggestions will be helpful anyway.

Apparently you are a supervisor or manager and an employee complained to a your state’s Industrial Relations Board, about something you said or did, that he or she considered to be mistreatment, unfairness or unethical or biased behavior.

The IR Board reported the matter to your organization’s Human Resource section. I think an EEC officer would refer to ethics but might be equal employment. The bottom line is that an employee has made a serious allegation about you and you are worried about the outcome and want to know what to do about it.

1. One thing that will help you throughout this process is to keep your composure about the situation and do not talk about it to anyone other than the people responsible for investigating it or someone you have asked for assistance about it.

Don’t talk to other employees or even to fellow supervisors, except to say that you are sorry for the conflict and you are cooperating fully with the investigation. If you express anger or make negative comments about the employee or the process, those can be repeated and you will have an even more difficult time. Or, you will try to explain what actually took place and that can be repeated with a twist. If you have already talked about, just back-off now and don’t let others get you going again.

It may be that there will be no formal investigation, because HR has other facts to go on. But, my experience has been that if someone makes an untrue allegation, it is valuable to have it investigated thoroughly, to get the truth out in the open. It is one way to hold people accountable for their false accusations.

2. Having said that, I should also note that if you did, in fact, say or do something, even inadvertently, that would be a violation of policy or procedure or that appears to be problematic, you might as well acknowledge it, give your viewpoint about it, apologize, say that it won’t happen again and count on your good work history to assist you. It would have to be a very, very severe violation to merit dismissal, so probably even if you were in error, you would not receive a major sanction.

3. Whether there is no truth to any of the allegations or a bit of truth, but not as bad as alleged, just follow the instructions you receive from any organizational unit who is investigating the matter. If you are asked for a statement or interviewed, respond readily and courteously. Your attitude and behavior during the investigation will be noted and probably at least casually reported.

4. If the complaint is about something you allegedly said, write the actual dialogue as nearly as you can remember it, word for word. Next to the sentences spoken by each of you, write a note to describe the tone of voice or facial expression, if that would make a difference in how the sentence is interpreted. In that way, you will have the exact words in writing, without having to try to repeat them exactly the same way when you may be more nervous about it.

List every witness to the event and where they were standing, as a way to differentiate between those who only saw the aftermath, but didn’t hear your words or the words of the other person.

5. If the complaint is about something you did administratively or related to job directions, promotions, assignments, days off or other employment situations, document everything you did. Make copies of files or reports, take a photo of an area, as a way to show it more clearly to anyone who talks to you about it.

If the complaint involved some aspect of using machinery or being trained about it, use your phone to video the machine in operation. For example, a supervisor videoed a loading dock as a way to show a complaint board the kind of noise he was dealing with and why he yelled loudly at an employee. It was very effective and he was cleared of wrongdoing.

6. You can see by #3, #4 and #5, that I’m suggesting that you assist the person who is going to investigate this matter, if there is going to be an investigation. If you are a supervisor, demonstrate to them that you are not angry at them or the system, because you understand their role and yours.

7. Talk to your manager, if that is comfortable for you to do, given the work environment or culture of the organization, and ask for his suggestions. He may have experience with the same thing and can talk to you about what to expect next.

8. Focus on your own good work. If there is some aspect of the situation that you would do differently, if you had it to do over again, put those better habits into practice now. Quite often, in some work environments more than others, the culture becomes one of “We get the work done and sometimes we have to talk tough to do it.” Or, “I have a job to do and I can’t always make everyone happy.” Those may be true statements, but they are often used to excuse rudeness or unnecessarily riding roughshod over employee. Or, they are used to excuse a lack of compassion or a lack of fairness.

If you are already doing an excellent job of supervision, just keep at it. The employee who complained about you may still feel anger toward you or he may wish he hadn’t made the complaint. Either way, you are still responsible for his well-being. Treat him with respect and civility and show him and others that you can move forward and past this.

Best wishes to you as this unfolds. If you have the time and wish to do so, let us know what develops.

Tina Rowe
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My Boss’s Husband Threatened Me

A question to Ask the Workplace Doctors
about being threatened at work. 

What can I do when my boss’s husband threatened me, saying “When you finish work, meet me outside.” And, “You don’t know who you’re messing with”?

It is certainly wrong for the husband or wife of an employee at any level, to get involved with work situations, even if they feel their spouse is being treated badly by someone at work. Most bosses or employees don’t like it either. What you do in your situation will depend upon whether or not your boss has a boss above her or if she owns the business—and if the husband works there too.

1. First talk to your boss and let her know what her husband told you, if she doesn’t know it already. Tell her that although you may have a conflict with her or with the work, you don’t want to risk being harmed or having her husband get in trouble with the police, by having her husband take on the fight for her, forcing you to defend yourself.

It doesn’t sound as though the two things he told you would be considered a threat under the law, but she may fear that you will call the police and will take action on her own to tell her husband to mind his own business and stay out of hers. She may (and should) also fear that a fight of some kind could result in serious harm to one or both of you. Even pushes and shoves can be deadly.

2. If it seems your boss doesn’t intend to try to stop her husband or doesn’t take your concerns seriously, go the person higher than her—or several levels higher if necessary. Even if someone is sympathetic to the husband, they will hopefully have enough wisdom to direct your boss to tell him to stay away from the property or stop talking to you and to not cause further trouble.

3. If you have a witness to the statements he made to you and you can show that he has harmed others in the past or is very likely to carry out his threats, you would be more likely to be able to contact the police and say you feel threatened. But generally, statements have to threaten something specific. For example, “Meet me outside and I’m going to use this knife.” Or, “You don’t know who you’re messing with. I’ve broken legs before and I can do it again.”

I don’t use those examples to frighten you, but rather, to show you the specific nature of a threat, in most jurisdictions.

4. If you think none of this will help, you may need to find another place to work, where you will be more safe. That may be what your boss is after—or she may not want you to quit and will be jolted enough at the thought that she would talk to her husband. Her husband might realize how his bragging threats have created more trouble than he intended and he would shut up and learn a good lesson.

5. However, don’t lose sight of the original problem. Why did your boss’s husband think things were so bad that he needed to threaten you to make you change your behavior? It could be that he is mentally ill or has anger management issues and he is upset for little or no justifiable reason. But, when a spouse of a boss makes a threat, it usually reflects something the boss has talked about. So, consider your own situation too and resolve to be courteous and cooperative and to communicate in a civil way with your boss and others.

Quite often employees get into a habit of treating people at work badly, because they have done it before and nothing has happened to them. They let their negative feelings show and make work miserable for many people around them, especially for the boss. I don’t know your situation, but maybe the threats by your boss’s husband should be a wake-up call to you, to alert you to a pattern of behavior that you have gotten into, without realizing it.

If you have friends at work, ask them how you might be viewed by others. Ask them if they think there are some things you can do to improve your relationship with your boss. Focus on your work and on following instructions about it. Be a contributing part of the team. That may be all that is necessary to stop the unwanted interference of the boss’s husband. He is wrong to do it, but it may be easy to stop.

6. Let me reiterate that if you believe you or your property may be harmed, you should report it to the police. Tell them exactly what was said and when. Don’t go back to work if you think harm will happen to you there. I think you can handle this on your own, but I don’t know all of the circumstances and I don’t want you to put yourself in harm’s way unnecessarily.

7. Your immediate actions should be pay attention to what is going on around you. Have your car keys ready. When you leave work, walk with someone. If you see the husband hanging around, ask someone to walk out with you or call the police and ask them to stand-by to assist you if needed. In most police jurisdictions, officers can provide that kind of service.

At your home, keep your doors locked and do not open them to the husband if he shows up. Alert your family as well. Even it seems a bit excessive, it’s a safe way to live anyway.

Best wishes to you as you work through this situation. If you have the time and wish to do so, let us know what develops and what solutions you find.

Tina Lewis Rowe
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