What do I do about my nasty colleague?

Dear Aunty,

I have a real problem for you. I work with a woman who is a real bitch. She talks about everyone behind their backs and tries to create trouble for people. She always has a target and it is usually another younger woman that she focuses on until they leave.

She also flirts with a few senior male managers so they always protect her and actually say they don’t know what you are talking about when anyone tries to explain what she’s doing.

I try and stay out of her way as she has tried to have a go at me several times and although she failed I don’t want to ever go through that again.

But now she is attacking my friend who is also one of her managers and she is spreading a very nasty rumour about her that I know is a lie! She hates this manager because the manager sees through her and I think she thinks the manager will stand in her way eventually.

Anyway, Aunty, what do I do? Do I tell my friend and get involved? The bitch will know it is me that told her and then I will be in the firing line. Or do I do what I have done for the past two years while the bitch has been here, which is stay away from her? Even if I tell the manager what can she do about it?

Wish I was in Vienna,

Dear Wish I was…

Look, I am the first person to tell you to stay away from these types of office dramas. But not this time. I think in this case you jump right in. The person she is spreading rumours about is her boss yes? So your boss has the capacity to take action.

Check this out. In this case the person was dismissed for an action that was not altogether dissimilar to what you describe. VECCI says: “The case affirms the capacity of an employer to dismiss an employee who fails to demonstrate appropriate diligence and good faith in respect of the employment relationship. In this case, an employee’s rumour-mongering clearly undermined the spirit and utility of the employment relationship, and sought to do damage to colleagues and management. The employer faced considerable risk by failing to take decisive action.”

Now I assume the manager affected isn’t her employer. But your manager might want to make a few legal threats in the general direction of the offending worker. Or she might like to completely ignore the issue, thinking it is too ridiculous to react.

Either way, accept that once you have reported the incident, your involvement is over. Approach your manager, make it clear that you never get involved in situations like this but you felt this was an exception. Don’t get emotional. Just state the facts and tell her you are leaving it in her hands and you won’t be mentioning this incident to anyone else.

Then get back to work.

Be smart, 
Your Aunty B


Aunty B is kicking back on holiday, but her advice is timeless, as evidenced by this Aunty B classic from April 2010. To read more Aunty B advice, click here.

Email your questions, problems and issues to auntyb@smartcompany.com.au.


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