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Boss disgusted when his son's bully's mother starts working for him; 'How does this affect the restraining order?!' AITA? UPDATED

Boss disgusted when his son's bully's mother starts working for him; 'How does this affect the restraining order?!' AITA? UPDATED


When this boss is shocked to find out who his new employee is, he asks the internet:

"I am full of rage and fear now that I know who my employee really is. AITA?"

I (M) received a promotion last month after several stressful years. The money will be life-changing. I’m working out of a different office much closer to home, I’ll be doing work I care about, and I’ll have more time with my family.

The company filled an open role at my new location just before I was promoted; I didn’t participate in the hiring process for this person. I did not know they hired the parent of my child’s bully. This isn’t just a few meetings with the principal kind of bully situation. We almost lost our child because of “Timmy.”

We moved our child and their siblings to a different school, then we sold our home and moved to the other side of the county. We had to involve the police at one point, resulting in being granted a restraining order against Timmy, who is now finally facing other legal consequences for his behavior.

Both kids are still quite young, so I’m still shocked at the cruel and awful things I witnessed my child go through at the hands of a peer, feeling helpless and out of control while we begged the school and his parents to intervene.

Our family life is finally settling down and this new work opportunity felt like a new start for us after the pain and fear we’ve gone through. My child is finally beginning to heal and get their life and joy back. We’re all in treatment as a family and individually to help recover from all of this.

The company hired Timmy’s mother, “Jane,” to fill this role, and I will be managing her. My first day meeting the team, she went pale when she saw me. I’m sure I probably did the same.

I know everyone else on this team and have great rapport with them. I don’t communicate with Jane unless I have to and it’s in writing.

What should I do? I’m not quitting and I’m not taking a demotion. Should I meet with Jane and HR to discuss this and set expectations? That feels like I’m betraying my child and my family, but professionally I know it’s an option. Do I ignore it and hope she’s so uncomfortable she quits?

Should I ask HR about offering her a transfer? At a certain point in the last year, she behaved just about as badly as her child did, and the judge considered including her in the restraining order, but was instead issued a warning on the record.

I checked and the two of us working together isn’t a violation of the restraining order, but it does open up the possibility.

I’m just so stunned I don’t know what to do. We don’t speak or interact unless we have to and some team members and a few of my colleagues in management have noticed but not said much about it. I’m at such a loss, I have no idea how to handle this. I despise her even though it's her son who's basically the villain. AITA?

Before we give you OP's update, let's take a look at some of the top responses:

faorita76 writes:

I feel like OP needs to acknowledge it in her convo with HR, maybe? “I need to discuss a conflict of interest in having Jane on my team. I’m sorry I didn’t come to you immediately with this, but—and you’ll see why shortly—I felt I needed to consult with my lawyer and get some additional business advice before coming to you.

Here is how I have maintained a professional relationship with Jane (XYZ) in the interim without allowing our personal history to affect performance. However, there is a chance other team members have noticed there is a difference in interaction. It was not my intent and I am confident I can overcome that with the team moving forward.

The conflict of interest I need to discuss is….” The comment from a thread farther down in the comments about saying that moving Jane to ensure Jane gets the best chance at success is a good one to show that it isn’t just about OP’s success...

but I think it needs to be framed in a way that doesn’t make it seem like the OP would be a hinderance to that...

just that Jane likely isn’t going to grow as well as she could because of her own hesitance around the situation. OP can outline concerns “Because of this pre-existing relationship...

I am worried I won’t be able to effectively manage her should a situation arise where she needs correction or discipline—what if she writes off valid criticism or feedback as retaliation?” Jane needs a manager that she trusts is unbiased and OP needs direct reports that she isn’t afraid will claim bias in tough conversations.

Jane being on a different team is the best way forward for the company without letting anyone go.

sperio writes:

I would specifically say ‘my child was the victim of an assault (or whatever other legal charges Timmy is now facing) by Jane’s child and there are ongoing legal proceedings related to the case as well as an active restraining order against...

Jane’s child.’ If you only say restraining order, it appears to be in past – but from the ‘finally facing other legal consequences’ statement by the OP it is very much still an ongoing issue.

Is OP going to be giving a victim impact statement at sentencing for Jane’s child and then expected to lead a staff meeting with Jane present the next day? Absolutely not.

cram65 writes:

NTA. This isn’t really a “you dislike her and are being petty about it and that’s a red flag for how you’d treat any other employee you took a dislike to” situation.

This is a “you’re a mother who almost lost her child due to the deliberate cruelty of this woman and her son, had to flee your home to the other side of the continent, and still have some pretty intense trauma about it” situation in which it’s hardly unsurprising that you can’t bring yourself to communicate with her except in writing.

This is so far outside the realms of normal management, and such an extreme situation, that most people aren’t going to view your behavior toward her as indicative of your management skills. I think anyone can understand and empathize with that.

In this isolated situation (as opposed to your history with Jane), there are no villains: you didn’t know Jane had been hired, Jane didn’t know she’d be working with you, and the company didn’t know your history. No one created this situation with any malice or bad intent.

But it’s still true that your employer has put you in a completely untenable situation.

I might talk to a lawyer first to see if you can get a judge to revisit not including Jane in the restraining order. I’m a little unclear on the chronology here, because you mention that you moved to the other side of the country–presumably to get away from the Jane/Timmy situation?–but now it sounds like Jane is in geographical proximity to you?

Did she and her family move to where you relocated? Was your move before or after you got a restraining order? Maybe, since your circumstances have changed, you could get her included?

In any case, please go to HR. Take your documentation. It’s not on you to figure out how to navigate working with her: it’s on them to handle this situation without penalizing you.

gremlin writes:

NTA!!!Yes, a good HR team and upper management board absolutely would care that one of their managers made their workplace into a battlefield to play out a personal drama instead of doing the professional thing and going to HR, because it would show terrible judgement on that manager’s part.

Yes, even if the target of that behavior was a massive jerk. “Playing out a personal vendetta” is not an appropriate use of work time or a leadership role, no matter how valid the LW’s feelings toward this woman are.

Jane wouldn’t even have to “prove” that the LW was treating her unfairly– simply not going to HR about it would be a serious reason to question the LW’s judgement, because that is the only professional move to make here.

Managers have a professional obligation to inform HR if they have a staff member they can’t manage effectively for any reason, including “this person caused significant harm to my family.” (Especially “this person caused significant harm to my family,” even??)

Even if you don’t care that you’re giving bad advice that would result in a bad outcome for Jane, please reflect on that you’re wholeheartedly giving bad advice that would result in a bad outcome for the LW, who had already suffered enough.

And now, OP's update:

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.

What do YOU make of OP's story? Any advice for him?

Sources: Reddit
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