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A friend's manager recently fired a coworker for no apparent reason, even though most people in the office considered the ex-coworker to be hard-working and efficient.

After some time the ex-coworker pressed sexual harassment charges against the manager and the company.

My friend kept in touch with the ex-coworker although they never became close friends.

Knowing that my friend is still in contact with the ex-coworker, the manager had a confidential conversation requesting that my friend tells the ex-coworker of all the bad things that might happen if the ex-coworker does not drop the legal charges. My friend refused to pass the threats over to the ex-coworker. The manager made it clear that if my friend does not cooperate then that can result in job loss.

What might be an optimum strategy in this case apart from or before trying to contact people higher up in the management or the HR department?

  • 50
    Your friend's manager is trading up from one lawsuit to two. – Ask About Monica Sep 12 '18 at 18:36
  • 4
    Get a tape recording. – paparazzo Sep 12 '18 at 18:39
  • 2
    @paparazzo: is it legal to record without consent? – booleanbean Sep 12 '18 at 18:40
  • 9
    What the manager is doing falls under the US Equal Opportunity definition of retaliation listed here. Definitely illegal. – DanK Sep 12 '18 at 20:02
  • 8
    Your fiend should approach a lawyer and explain the threat. Even if (s)he can't prove it, if the firing does happen, the fact that a lawyer was told about it beforehand will come in useful when suing that toxic company – Mawg says reinstate Monica Sep 13 '18 at 7:17
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The optimum strategy is to go to HR and tell them: "Listen - this guy has sexual harassment charges against him. Now he wants me to convince the ex-employee to drop the charges. AND if I won't do that he's threatening to fire me. So not only will HE get two charges, one of which will be obstruction of justice, but THE COMPANY will get a third one for wrongful dismissal."

HR are there to protect the company and this "boss" is doing everything to make the company look bad. This is not good PR and if this case will make it look even slightly like the company is covering for the alleged sexual offence, the ship will hit the fan faster than the law team will be able to write a tweet with apologies.

  • But before doing that, get sound evidence like a recording or a email. – Josef Sep 13 '18 at 13:57
  • Do that in writing on an email. Print out that email after you send it and put it in a safety deposit box. – Glen Pierce Sep 13 '18 at 15:05
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    The company is already getting a sexual harassment charge--the wrongful dismissal would be the fourth, not the third. – Loren Pechtel Sep 15 '18 at 4:25
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    This is dangerous. The best bet is for the OP to get legal advise. – Mister Positive Sep 17 '18 at 12:46
  • If you do this, get written proof of the boss's threats and your HR visit so when they fire you for "unrelated reasons" you can get unemployment. – user90809 Sep 18 '18 at 15:41
18

This is not the “boss” but the manager, so there’s probably someone above him. Your friend should talk to whoever is above the manager. And they also should talk to the co-workers lawyer who will be very interested. That action changes things from harassment which may or may not be proven to “perverting the course of justice”.

Reading comments, I’ll repeat that this is one manager, not the company. And telling someone about an attempt at perverting the course of justice (which in the U.K. carries a lengthy jail sentence) is your civic duty, not something any company can hold against you.

  • 3
    the "boss" is only in the title, for brevity; thanks for the point with perverting the course of justice — this didn't occur to me. – booleanbean Sep 12 '18 at 18:59
  • Yes, talk to the boss's boss, or HR. This is one of the instances where HR would definitely be helpful. – David K Sep 12 '18 at 19:04
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    Your friend should start documenting everyting - even writing in a notebook directly after a conversation is better than nothing. However, try to do as much as possible over email, and he may want to consider bccing his personal address as well. – IllusiveBrian Sep 12 '18 at 20:22
  • @IllusiveBrian Documenting everything is very important, however BCCing a private email address with company confidential information may be problematic (see Bad Blood by John Carreyrou for an example of using BCC to protect your self didn’t go well). I suggest its better to keep hard copies off site. – Ben Mz Sep 12 '18 at 22:37
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    @SethR He could make a wrongful dismissal claim, but while IANAL I think the employer would have a strong argument that giving information to opposing counsel without your company's consent or a court order in an active lawsuit against the company is a valid cause for dismissal. At bare minimum I would advise the friend talk to his own counsel before making a decision. – IllusiveBrian Sep 13 '18 at 1:54
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Your friend, whose manager implied directly or indirectly that they could lose their job if they don't participate in this activity, should not try to find an "optimal solution." Go to HR and upper management, report this. This is for your friend's protection, should this evolve into a harassment lawsuit - which it might, since @DanK brought up the US Equal Opportunity Employment laws related to retaliation.

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