Coworker Cheating On Time

Question:

I work with a woman that cheats on her time. She sits behind me and divulges the fact that she has problems with paying for extended daycare for her child. We are exempt so no time clock is punched. She says she comes in at 6:00am to leave at 2:00pm which is her 8 hour day. I have been there at 6:00 am and she does not get in until 7:00 or after. Sometimes she will also leave for lunch and be gone for 2 hours which means she is actually working part time! We are on required 5 hours overtime now and she even told the boss she had come in on Sat and I know she had not and never had an intention to because she called me that day to let me know she was having a yard sale and was not going in. It bothers me and I have asked her about it but it seems to have become almost like she believes she can work those hours because no body says anything to her about it. I look around and see me and these other ladies working OT because she is not doing her share.

She was confronted by the boss about why she had not worked OT last week because she was off on Fri and we post our intended time on a sheet outside our cube. She told the boss that I had put on my time sheet I had come in at 8:45 and I did not come in until 9:00. I had an internal meeting that was at 8:45 until 9:00 so it was not logged but I had e-mail to prove this since it was internal. The boss called me into her office and told me the woman mentioned me possibly cheating on time too when she was called out and told me to watch out.

I am considering reporting her to our HR employee relations because she is trying to make everyone else look like cheaters since she is. Like taking the crew with you when your ship is sinking. Should I do this? She came to my desk and asked if we were straight about everyting and I couldn’t speak. She said she was not worried about her time. People that are that blatent scare me so I do not want any retaliation from her. I am fine with my time so I am not concerned about that but having to watch your back is a major distraction. I feel she should be made to come down to earth a little and pull her share it is very disturbing to see someone pulling you away from your family to do OT and then she comes in to talk about what she does with her daughter in the early afternoons she has off. Should I call HR?

Signed,

Wondering


Answer:

Dear Wondering:

I think Dr. Gorden answered your question earlier–though in this one you indicate you have not yet contacted HR. I don’t think you should contact HR until you have talked to your supervisor openly and with all the facts you have, ready to present to him or her.

When you talk to him, tell him that you have three reasons for talking to him: First, you want to ensure that he is aware of the true situation, not just hearing rumors. Second, you are frustrated at doing overtime work when one employee is getting paid but not doing hers. Third, you want to be known as someone who is truthful and honest about work, even when it’s tough to do. Say that you have dreaded talking to him about this, but think it’s the only right and ethical thing to do, and also the only way to stop your feelings of anger and frustration over the other employee’s behavior. Also, tell your supervisor what actions you have taken on your own to talk to your co-worker about the situation, and what the results were.

The problem with going to HR is that not only is it viewed as a serious complaint about which they have to take action, no matter what–but it also implies that your boss isn’t hadndling it correctly, which gets him in trouble too. You don’t need that issue on top of other things.

I should also tell you that I don’t think you have been honest with your co-worker, or this would not have developed as it has. You could have told her many times in the past, that you were going to the supervisor if she didn’t start doing her scheduled work. You could have told her, when she talked about her children’s activities, that you found that to be insensitive and unethical of her. And, when she talked to you about the matter recently, you could have told her why you have felt so angry and frustrated. Apparently you have done none of those things. That is what stirs up major conflict in a workplace. It’s not that people have frustrations, it’s that they have them but keep them to themselves and even lie about it when asked, until everything finally boils over.

I hope you will have a truthful talk with your supervisor. Do not talk to your co-worker about this until any official action is over. If she wants to talk about it, tell her you can’t do that until your supervisor says you can. Then let him know that you’re going to try to mend the relationship with the co-worker. When you talk to your co-worker, tell her why you took the action you took, and tell her in no uncertain terms that you do not apologize for taking the action, since it was her behavior that forced you to do it. Don’t try to wiggle out of things by blaming anyone else, just say what you feel, in a civil way, and say that you hope it can all be put behind you. I doubt you will ever be able to have a great relationship with this person in the future, because both of you will feel awkward about it. But at least you might be able to have an effective working relationship.

You are likely not the only employee who has been frustrated by all of this, so you may have more support than you realize.

Best wishes as you find a way to deal with this challenge.

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.