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Boss's employee dresses up as other coworker for halloween; 'I am resigning, I can't be around subtle abuse.' AITA? UPDATED

Boss's employee dresses up as other coworker for halloween; 'I am resigning, I can't be around subtle abuse.' AITA? UPDATED


When this boss is stumped by an odd HR situation, he asks the internet:

"My employee dressed up as a coworker for Halloween to mock her. I am so uncomfortable. AITA?"

My office had a costume contest on Halloween. Dressing up was encouraged (but not mandatory).

I was out of the office that day so I did not see the costumes at the time, but I saw photos afterwards. One of my reports dressed up as a “basic girl” (fabric boots, leggings, Starbucks pumpkin spice drink, etc.). The costume itself was fine, but she also wore a name tag, with the name of another one of my reports.

The name is not common. I had never heard it before my report started working here.

The costumed employee wore a blonde wig in the same cut and style of the person whose name she used, as well as blue contact lenses and the same color nail polish she normally wears. I also heard she acted absent-minded and airheaded as part of the costume.

She was voted the winner of the costume contest by the other employees. My report with the uncommon name came to me the next day and she was upset about being made fun of.

People were calling them twins or had said the costumed person looked more like her than she does. The costumed report swears she wasn’t dressed as her colleague and it was all a coincidence and the other employees say it was just some fun.

My report with the uncommon name said she had a hard time saying anything because the costumed employee is slightly senior to her (she has worked here for four months and only finished college this year, the costumed employee has worked her for almost five years) and because my boss voted for the costumed employee in the contest.

I understand why she is upset, but as a manager I’m not sure if I can address this now The day has passed and my manager was on board with everything. Is this worth addressing or do I just acknowledge my report being upset and move on?

As of the Monday following Halloween, my report stopped coming in. She didn’t say anything about resigning or leaving. She just stopped coming in (the Friday after Halloween was her last day).

I was concerned when she didn’t come in because it wasn’t like her. I called police to do a welfare check when she didn’t show up and could not be reached.

The police did a check and told me she moved and didn’t live at the address we had on file. I called the property management office, but they didn’t have a forwarding address and said she had informed them abruptly she would be moving a month before her lease ended and wouldn’t be renewing and she was moved out within days.

The email and Google voice number she put on her resume and hiring paperwork are no long in service and we don’t know any other contact/phone/social media information for her.

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

cra66 writes:

Yes, the entire office needs a talking to and some anti-bullying training. If you had some way to know a) who voted for the costume and b) which of those people had seen the nametag(*), then, sure you could discipline just those people.

But you probably can’t get the former and certainly can’t get the latter. So this may be one of those rare cases where an office-wide reprimand is in order. And by definition, you know more than half the employees deserve it.

(*) The nametag is the most damning part of the costume. It doesn’t matter how common the name is. It was the name of one and only one of the people in the office. It’s disingenuous for the soon-to-be-fired bully to claim it’s just a coincidence.

vapidd writes:

Do you honestly think that your management team will reflect back and say “you’re right, OP. This was completely the WRONG thing to do. Bring the (new report) in, we will apologize to her. Profusely.

And then we’ll give her a day off. And during that day off, we will deliver a**whuppins to the staff, collectively and individually. And during that session, Big Boss is going to get up and address the staff, discussing the error of our collective action.”

You think that’s gonna happen? As I say, only in the movies. OP #1 – start looking, and get out. You could be the NEXT victim. And if you land somewhere else, take the new employee with you. Don’t worry about the “manager’s unwritten code on poaching”. JUST DO IT.

chrosss writes:

It appears you misread that because I didn’t say black women WERE basic and I didn’t say it was okay to stereotype or call anyone anything. I said:

“Basic is an insult toward women who engage in stereotypical, trendy things. It’s basically (no pun intended) calling them boring, bland followers who lack creativity. Anyone can be basic. White women can be basic. Black women can be basic. Asian women can be basic. Latinas can be basic.”

I said that because as I responding to bougie being compared to basic I saw that someone just below that said, “It is rather racial and gendered. The longer form for that term is basic white girl or basic b&ch.” when I’ve heard women of every stripe called basic.

And now, OP's update:

I feel terrible about what happened. As for going to HR, we are in the HR department. I am the manager of Employee and Labor Relations. The director of HR and the C-suite individual they report to both voted for the costume in the contest. Everyone including them thinks it was “good fun.”

The company I work for is a large one, anyone who lives in this state would recognize the name, but no one sees things my way.

I didn’t mention this in my first letter, but some of the comments did pick up on this. My report who wore the costume was not the same race as the report she imitated. The costumed report also weighs more than the person she dressed up as and intentionally wore too small clothing and a crop shirt with her stomach and cleavage showing.

Her makeup and mannerisms were exaggerated, according to everyone. My report she dressed up as is actually very intelligent and articulate. She said her portrayal was not meant to be insulting even though it obviously was.

I’ve started looking for another job. If it wasn’t for the fact that I’m going to be a dad soon, I would have resigned already (my wife is a freelancer with many clients, but given that she is pregnant we want the stability of a guaranteed income). I am resigning because I can't be around this subtle abuse. I feel so awkward AITA?

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

Sources: Reddit
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