What rights or recourse do I have when a colleague has been discovered to be sabotaging my work?
August 25,2022 at 3:05PM UTC
A few years ago a wonderful colleague and mentor retired and was replaced by a younger guy with a PhD and a series of work experiences with a little bit of baggage. He was also good friends with the other person on my team so he came in with a lot of bias against me because she had struggled with our old boss and job descriptions hadn’t been clear. Within his first few months on the job he made backhanded compliments to me about how I was overpaid and must have really done an incredible job negotiating my salary, how my education level probably didn’t match my title and pay scale and how he was impressed I was actually good at things and was so respected and connected professionally. I try to assume the good and gave the benefit of the doubt that he was coming in with secondhand experiences through his friendship with my colleague (I am her supervisor) and was a little socially awkward.
Over the next few years, work became increasingly difficult. As part of a nonprofit, I worked at times around the clock to navigate the pandemic and modify programs. He insisted we completely change our financial systems which fell to me but when I would relay the details from banks or end users that didn’t align with his vision, he simply refused to accept the information as real information. He is unclear and vague and not quite threatening in his communication style. All this is coupled with three years of watching him violate policies and lie about it or manipulate or misrepresent details in order to get what he wants. Ultimately, I found myself struggling more and more and took a new position elsewhere for my own well-being personally and professionally.
I had no intentions of trying to harm anyone in my departure, I was simply going to take a position that was better for myself and wish the organization well… but in the weeks since I accepted the new role, it has come to light that he was actively sabotaging me in ways that I worry will harm my reputation not only with the people I formerly served but with the national colleagues we will still share. He had kept me off of listservs or out of conversations where concerns or issues would be identified and then never let me know they’d been raised so we could do something to fix problems before they started. He would only provide partial information and pressure me to take action I expressed concern about that would later cause problems. I’ve learned he was most recently initiating conversations with critical stakeholders with untrue information, setting up public moments where he could claim I was failing to do my job because he knew I had other work responsibilities, and he even filed disingenuous complaints about safety with my employer. None of the concerns he brought to others were ever addressed with me for a response or an improvement plan (and most of what I’ve heard is at least inaccurate if not fully untrue). At no point did I learn of any of this because he told people if they tipped me off, I would be ineligible for a severance package if they ultimately removed me from my role. (This was not based on any true policy where I work so it appears he simply used it as a way to keep people from slowing down or taking action that might inhibit his desire to try to remove me from my position). I’ve also learned that he’s undermined others in our professional circle similarly in the past.
I do not want to be considered a bitter former employee but I also don’t want this to continue to impact my career or to impact others. I don’t “have the receipts” of his toxic behavior because he locked me out of my email account and I wasn’t keeping a file on his behavior because I felt that was a bad-faith behavior toward a colleague. What rights should I have had? Another colleague went so far as to say I should report them to their employer or the attorney general (they are a state agency employee) but I don’t want this to simply be dismissed as an emotional act.
Thank you for any advice you’ve got. I’m grateful to move forward but anxious about his continued behavior and it’s impact not only on me but on others who continue to work in this organization I truly believed in.
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