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Employee maliciously complies with a request to 'print it'; boss tries to fire them.

Employee maliciously complies with a request to 'print it'; boss tries to fire them.


Bosses request the darndest things. The worst ones will make dumb requests and then refuse to listen to reason, then get mad when the thing you warned them of would happen. If you have a boss like this, your best bet is to comply and ensure everything is in writing.

On a popular Reddit thread in the Malicious Compliance Subreddit, an employee is asked to print out the internet, and they deliver.

They write:

This was about a decade ago, but still well within the realm of the internet. I was a technical writer for the government and had slowly been transferring our old employee handbook (think government bureaucracy from the 1940s) into a modern and useful doc (think one page with our policies and links to useful websites, like Office of Personnel Management, forms for workman's comp, etc.).

My boss wanted the whole thing printed out on her desk the next morning. This was the Monday of the Thanksgiving weekend. I printed out the 200 pages and had the links to the various websites in bold. This took about an hour, and I left it on her desk before going home that night.

She calls me into her office on Tuesday afternoon and yells at me for being stupid. Do I think people can go to a website when it is on paper? No. I need to PRINT everything out. I calmly tell her that these sites are dense and deep, which would be about 10,000 pages.

She says she does not care, and it needs to be ON HER DESK first thing Monday morning. This is now Tuesday, and we usually had some of Wednesday off. I was not planning to work Thanksgiving or Friday, as I had applied for leave and was looking forward to a long relaxing weekend. I don't have family, but I had plans. But ok, I asked her to email me to request 'everything about the employee handbook online in a printed format.'

A quick bit of context: She was my boss, she did my performance appraisals, and she could make my life miserable and possibly fire me. However, my clients were teams that put together engineering plans, biological assessments, scientific journal articles, reports to Congress, etc., with real-world deadlines.

If you missed the publication date, your agency paid $100,000 daily in delay fees on some of these. Or you would piss off a congressperson, which is never a good idea. And I was getting sick and tired of my boss's requests that took me away from work.

So I printed all the rest of Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday. I had to go to the site, print, click on the next link, print, etc. On Wednesday, we got a congressional (a letter from a congress critter that was important). Had we not gotten that, I might not have done what I did. I got overtime approved pronto to take care of this request.

So I did work Thanksgiving. As I was doing that, I kept on printing. And printing. I used up every sheet of paper in our 14-story building.

I kept researching the congressional response, printing, going to the next floor to carefully get that packet of paper to tuck under the appropriate page, etc. I had papers in about twenty different conference rooms.

I could have done the congressional in about 8 hours. But it was not due until Monday. And all of this printing took me a good 24 hours of work. So I put in for 32 hours of overtime (Thurs, Fri, Sat, and Sun). I got it done.

This is now two stacks of paper, each about six feet high. I was way under in my estimate of 10,000 pages as it was more like about 30,000. (Remember, I had at least five printers going at once for four days etc.). I put this in my boss's office (which was already none too clean and pristine).

I got written up with a disciplinary hearing and everything. The charge was malicious compliance. I kept my job only because I did have her request in an email.

OP had some updates:

'I kept my job only because.' I say that because the boss was VERY UPSET and was going to HR demanding that I be put on a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP) where she could take her revenge and create other issues that would have gotten me fired.

I was probably not in danger of being fired simply for this action. But I was not put on a PIP. I was given a Disciplinary Letter. So the only actual fallout was that I could not get a bonus (we get $1,000 bonuses if our performance is above average).

Yes, the charge was 'malicious compliance.' That was what was written in the disciplinary letter. She could not get me on anything else. She had not set any limits (you can only spend x hours, print out x materials, etc.). And I had her instructions in an email to print out the handbook and all pertaining information from websites.

I do not remember the exact wording. I probably should have kept that all these years, but after three decades, I threw out everything when I left the government.

The two six-foot stacks were not just paper printouts. The handbook covered everything and was more of an intranet in itself. I had been working on this project for a long time in my spare time. The guide covered everything. In short, this was a well-organized intranet where you could quickly find precisely what you needed and no more.

I had Human Resources policies on leave, tardiness, all disciplinary actions, retirement, health insurance, taxes, transfer requests, etc.; how to write all types of reports (planning reports, facility review reports, congressional, etc.) along with all templates for the reports; project management and public involvement processes, etc.

It also had every position description and how to write performance reviews, award letters, etc.; emergency procedures for particular buildings, etc.; how to conduct and write a Job Hazard Analysis for any work on a facility, etc.

There was no reason to print this out. And my boss never gave me a reason. I had been arguing against printing this for at least a year before my boss gave me the order even to print the 200 pages I had in the first place.

These 200 pages each briefly explained the situation (for example, why we do a Job Hazard Analysis, what it should cover, and who should do one) and then gave links (for example, to the Word Template you could download and use) to good examples). So, I already had a LOT of material that I just put into the piles.

So the piles looked like* an index tab with a sticky for the topic,* Sheet of paper explaining the concept,* Ream of paper printing out the internet (all of the pages with the related links), neatly put into a notebook.* Pre-printed examples of templates, reports, etc.

We did have a printing unit off-site, so major jobs were printed there. Thus we did not have that many copiers in the building (one per floor). And yes, before you ask, my boss **could have** asked the copy unit to do the work. But the copy unit would only print things in a pre-approved pdf format. They would not have printed the internet for my boss.

Yes, my boss kept her job. She was promoted from group manager of about 15 people to the Deputy Chief of a division of several hundred people.

Yes, I worked at the same job (technical writer) for 30+ years. First off, I loved what I did. I was good at it. I never wanted to go into management and deal with people's headaches. Second, I needed health insurance and would not have been able to get a private company job because of my underlying handicap.

So staying put in the government and doing what I loved worked well for me. And I was pretty effective at my job. I wrote documents allowing decision-makers to understand complex issues and make good decisions, employees use and protect our facilities, etc. My colleagues respected me, and we worked well together.

Yes, this is the U.S. Federal Government. And we did have a very ineffectual union where only a few people were allowed to be bargaining unit members. And the union could have done very little to save my job.

The internet had some thoughts.

itbeazombieyo says:

Another day was saved by the CYA paper trail.

Sfelex says:

Did nothing happen to her? For her 'I don't care' stupid request?

Bovine_Arithmetic says:

A boss once told me, 'Do x,' and I explained (this being my area of expertise) that doing 'x' would ruin our product. She said that if I didn’t 'do x,' I would be fired for insubordination. I asked her to put it in an email, which I immediately printed and kept safe. So I did 'x.'

A few weeks later, when the product was due to be delivered, management discovered the product was ruined and undeliverable. I was called into the vice president’s office and asked to explain why I had done 'x' when it was obvious that it would ruin the product. I showed them the email from my boss. They fired me because I 'should have refused' to do 'x.'

OP your boss is the dumb one and has no business managing anyone.

Sources: Reddit
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