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my new employee is the parent of my child’s bully — Ask a Manager


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 employee was the parent of her child’s bully? As a result of the bullying, they’d had to move, involve the police, and get a restraining order. Here’s the update.

I appreciate that AAM allowed me the space to get my thoughts in order before I said or did anything stupid. I should have gone to HR my first day as Jane’s manager, but I was not thinking straight. Things had been going so well at home that I didn’t want to jeopardize it by bringing Jane back into our lives.

Within a few days of my question posting, my junior team lead “Sam” asked me directly about my weird behavior around Jane, which had been going on for about two weeks or so. In the org chart, I’m Sam’s superior but not by much. Sam and I have worked together in the past but not closely enough that he knew about my connection to Jane (her child bullied and assaulted my child and the courts were involved, among other things).

I told Sam about my history with Jane, providing limited details with minimal legal documentation and proof which my lawyer advised me on and he was shocked but incredibly supportive. He let me know that Jane had been very vocal with several other staff including him since my first day, warning staff to stay away from me, that I was toxic, dangerous, that I had slept with her husband and broken up her marriage. All I could do was laugh at that. It hadn’t occurred to me that keeping my distance would give Jane a chance to try to damage my reputation, but she didn’t get very far. I’ve worked with everyone else on this team on and off for most of my career, so they were all very skeptical.

Sam and I met with HR and walked through my history with Jane to create a plan for Sam to manage her going forward. HR was wonderfully supportive and thanked me for communicating with her in writing as it was probably the safest thing I could have done under the circumstances.

Then we learned a few things we didn’t know. HR had been planning to reach out to me because when my predecessor hired Jane, he had done so without putting in the paperwork for a background check. This is one of the many reasons I replaced this manager. Our company requires us to use a fingerprinting service run out of the sheriff’s office for a full background check before starting employment. My predecessor let her start without one and just marked “passed” in her employee profile without adding the appropriate documentation. When pressed, he said he lost it. HR was able to confirm Jane had never gone. Before I started as her boss, Jane had been given a 30-day grace period from HR to get fingerprinted, missed multiple appointments, and had been pushing back on it with my predecessor’s support. He’d left no documentation for me or record of this issue, which didn’t surprise us, and now there was only a week left in the grace period. HR needed to discuss terminating Jane if she didn’t get fingerprinted for her background check within the next 10 days. All of this is based on state regulations and company policy and thankfully had nothing to do with me. There was no other job or department she could be moved to that didn’t require a background check.

Sam took over from there and all I know is they met with Jane, explained that Sam would be her manager going forward, and made an appointment for her to get fingerprinted that day, and she enthusiastically agreed to go. And didn’t. And never returned any calls or contact attempts from HR or Sam, which was honestly the best way this could have washed out.

My family is doing better than ever, work is great, and my amazing kiddo is healing and finding joy again. They even helped their new school start an anti-bullying and mental health program to help younger students if they feel unsafe. We’re going to be traveling to see relatives and have some fun this summer, so we’re very excited. I feel like a weight’s been lifted off my chest.

A huge thank you to the AAM community for just letting me get all my thoughts out.



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