We have one colleague who is always watching us. Hes not the boss, but just a colleague. Ive had several issues with him.

To give an example:

Once after lunchtime he came to me, stopped me, pointed at his watch and said.

"I had 29 minutes break, you 33 minutes. Note that in your contract you are allowed only a 30 minute break. If this happens again, we are going to do something about it."

I was really totally surprised that he complained about 3 minutes. Although hes technically right, his behaviour was like a moron to me.

Much more has happened throughout the time.

The following issue happend today:

I was getting a cup of coffee, when a colleague was going to get his cup of thee. I was asking him some question about an issue I had, and if he knowns how to deal with it.

I was also about to smoke a cigarette, so I told him. Lets go outside to get some fresh air (we are working inside an office the whole day), its nice wheather. So we can discuss there

I watched the clock, and remembered the time: 11:44. After we came back inside, I watched the clock again and noted: 11:47. So I though to myself. "Good only 3 minutes".

After sitting back in out office, we got the following email:

I have just seen that you went out together to smoke. The agreement we have made with each other is that if you want to smoke you do this alone and not together. Otherwise, the entire company will smoke outside and that is not the intention.

If you want to smoke together, you do so in your own time and not in the time of Company Name. The reason that I communicate this with you by email is because I am afraid to become unreasonable if I personally do this.

We have made an appointment about smoking and it is simply ignored. With this you have the appointment now also in writing, so you can not forget it.***

A few side notes to this email:

  • I am the only smoker in the company
  • I am allowed to smoke
  • Once there was send an email that we are not alowed to smoke together (funny thing? Ive almost smoked alone, since I came to the company. So this email was a total joke to most of us).
  • Look at this line of his email: The reason that I communicate this with you by email is because I am afraid to become unreasonable if I personally do this.

So I replied his email with the following email:

Sorry, but John did not smoke at all. I went to get coffee when John went to get his usual mug of tea. I asked him a few things about the software, I then said: 'I am going to smoke, walk along then we can > discuss further, it is also nice weather.';

Whether we do this consultation at the coffee machine, or outside. What does it matter. Moreover, how long were we outside? 3 - 4 minutes? Yes, from 44 - 47. On the airco clock on the counter.***

Then he replied:

It is about the fact that you do not stand outside with several people, whether you smoke or not. You can discuss business matters inside and certainly not outside on the street.***

I want to know:

  • How do I deal with his behavior?
  • Can they forbid employee's to be outside if they work all day inside? Just only for 2 - 3 minutes once a day?

Side notes:

Going to my boss, and forward these mail don't help. The boss rather agrees with him. He also don't allows us to go outside once a day for 3 minutes. Only alone, not with another person.

*** Note, these emails are real emails.

  • 3
    Doesn't your colleague have tasks he should be getting on with, rather than pester you? Is there any actual evidence that your work has been impacted by a slightly longer lunch?
    – user34587
    Commented May 9, 2018 at 12:06
  • 4
    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it doesn't relate to an actual issue that's currently happening. You resigned from this job, which has resolved this issue for you.
    – user44108
    Commented May 9, 2018 at 12:06
  • @Snow I created this topic for another collegue of mine aswell, who is not going to leave the company. As he just came here since January. So the info provided here, can be good for him I think.
    – Red
    Commented May 9, 2018 at 12:15
  • 1
    Then why can't you be straightforward and write the question the correct way so that people understand the real issue in the right context? First it's you, then you resign due to the behavior, now it's someone else, but the question is still about you.
    – user44108
    Commented May 9, 2018 at 12:17
  • 2
    Don't reason with crazy. You just need to shut it down, not make excuses for your own reasonable behavior.
    – cbll
    Commented May 9, 2018 at 14:02

1 Answer 1


How do I deal with his behavior?

You need to deal with this person directly, and tell them to mind their own business. If they continue, I would ask your manager how to deal with this behavior. Show your manager the emails as well.

If your manager is unable to deal with it, then carefully consider whether or not to report this to HR. (I would ignore this clown it at all possible before going to HR, but that is up to you. Remember HR is not your friend.)

Can they forbid employee's to be outside if they work all day inside? Just only for 2 - 3 minutes once a day?

Most likely they cannot, but you would need to consult a local labor expert to be 100% certain. In the US, they cannot.

Update: Going forward, I would train myself to ignore such nonsense instead of leaving a company that had a couple of jerks if I were you. Jerks are everywhere.... YMMV

  • I did show the manager. They don't do anything about it, they rather agree with him. Also the reason that I resigned. This is the most wierd company I ever worked at.
    – Red
    Commented May 9, 2018 at 12:02
  • @Red What country is this in?
    – Neo
    Commented May 9, 2018 at 12:03
  • HR would be your only recourse at this point @Red, leaving the job seems extreme.
    – Neo
    Commented May 9, 2018 at 12:04
  • I already have a new job. Much more has happenend that I decided to quit. I will start at the new job at 01-09-2018. But have to sit here until 31 of Juli. Every week he tries to find issues, and I am realy tired of this. Have discussed it several times with several people. Nothing changed :|
    – Red
    Commented May 9, 2018 at 12:06
  • 4
    The problem continues because you're playing in to his complaints by engaging him and arguing with him. Ignore him! He's not your boss, you've already quit the job. Literally: ignore him. You're not going to "solve" this.
    – dwizum
    Commented May 9, 2018 at 12:46

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