Guilty Conscience

A few weeks ago one of my co-workers confessed to me that she, in anger, disposed of client files that were our bosses. When I told her how negatively this could affect the clients, she said “I don’t care, I want her to look crazy.” I was very disappointed and told her so. She kept asking if I hated her. It was all about her sticking it to the boss, no care for the clients who might remain in jail as a result of this action. I told one of the attorneys because I wasn’t sure if I should turn her in or do nothing. The attorney gave her a strong lecture and we encouraged her to turn herself in to our boss and face whatever happens. In the end, she didn’t. The attorney and my co-worker ended up coming to agreement to say nothing and hope it worked out. I went along with them begrudgingly.

Unfortunately, I really like my co-worker. She’s fun and we hung out outside of work a few times. On Thursday I turned her in to HR. Though I like her, I found myself not trusting her work. It’s hard sharing an office with someone that you worry if they’re going to ruin your files if you piss them off. She was being awkward and I couldn’t deal with what I knew anymore. I didn’t tell the attorney what I was doing and left her name or of my account of that day. It came out that some of those clients were never seen by a social worker as a result and were sentenced; there is a chance we could have come up with a much better discharge plan.

My manager went with me to the head defender (you know, the big boss) and I had to tell her what my co-worker told me. She called her a sociopath because who does something so malicious with no regard for who it really effected. Our boss stressed about the files, big time, but it really hurt the clients. Also our boss (who is in her 70s) did start to question her memory and considered FMLA leave! So, my coworker really screwed up and hurt people. It’s not fair.

I don’t consider myself as someone who tattles on people but I know that her actions were wrong. One employee who knows the whole story says I did the right thing, we are duty bound to report those things. Another called me a rat. As a whole, I don’t think my unit knows exactly what happened but everyone knows she was fired Friday. When they called her in, I left for the day. I didn’t want to be there when she came to clean out her desk. I feel very guilty about her losing her job. I’m anxious about who knows what among our unit and how will I be perceived when I’m back in the office Tuesday. I just want to go back to quietly doing my work.

In positive news, before this happened I was offered to move out of my current 2 person unit and into the larger social work unit. So exciting! It’s a lot more work, a diverse caseload, and will give me a lot of new experiences. I should transition into that role in the coming weeks! I might possibly be able to even move desks away from my co-worker nemesis! The jury is still out on that one.

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5 thoughts on “Guilty Conscience

  1. AndiePants

    Your coworker made a highly unethical choice to deal with disliking her supervisor. You encouraged her to come clean and be accountable and she chose not to do that. I absolutely think you made the right choice. This clearly deeply impacted people who were innocent. That said, office culture can be brutal so I hope you get the support you need.

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    1. The sad thing is that she was just finishing her probationary time to become full staff. She had a very difficult time with our boss’s strong personality. This was her first job post grad school and I don’t think she understood you can’t buck authority as much as you’d like.

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  2. Sabotaging someone at work is wrong all around–even worse when it effects third parties who had nothing to do with anything. I really hope your coworkers cut you some slack on this. I know it’s an awkward position to be in, but you absolutely did the right thing.

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