Several of my friends work for a department of my municipal government. The municipality is small, having about 30 000 people and is in Canada. It also is not covered by any provincial freedom of information type requests.

The department in question has a few dozen staff and a annual operating budget of several million dollars. There are four tiers of staff in the department: the manager, the supervisors, and then general staff, some of whom have lead roles and others who do not.

The previous long term manager, let's say Jordan, retired in the fall. Jordan's director refused the first name proposed to act after Jordan departed (this person was the usual replacement), instead asking for another name. This name was Sam (age 31), someone from the lowest rung with no management or supervisory experience, but with social connections to the then director. Sam had occupied this entry level role for about 9 years.

Fast forward several months:

  • The city has finally finished hiring a new permanent manager for the department, Sam.
  • There is a new permanent director, Kim, who oversaw Sam's permanent recruitment.


Sam is now the new boss, but has ethical baggage (in addition to a lack of respect from Sam's new underlings), which is causing issues.

During Sam's acting tenure, and before, Sam has been observed violating a number of policies and ethical standards, for example:

  • Misusing city vehicles (partially documented)
  • Altering time sheets after the fact (retroactively changing vacation to work time, not documented but witnessed)
  • Frequent absenteeism
  • Occasional instances of sexist behavior (certainly not regular)

I won't speak to other reasons why Sam has earned this dislike, but there are many, but these aren't related to ethics but competency and managerial skill

But, a key issue, at least my mind as an observer, is that Sam did not have the requisite experience necessary to be screened into the recruitment process. Namely, "4 years of supervisory/management". In Sam's work history there is one prior job that potentially involves managing other people, event manager for a term in university for the student union.

The evidence for falsification is:

  • Sam's work history clearly does not show 4 years management/supervisory capacity (documentary evidence)
  • Sam has been witnessed claiming "creativity" in resume drafting to be screened in

And the falsification would have to be presented at least twice explicitly:

  • The resume itself
  • The e-questionnaire that served to screen candidates (and allows minimal interference)

This is a difficult topic to bring up with the director, Kim; however, as Kim may have let nepotism play a role in hiring Sam: Sam's father-in-law professionally mentored Kim for many years. The fear of something fishy is augmented by the fact that either:

  • Sam did not use as a reference either Sam's supervisor or the retiring department manager (having worked for them for 9 years), OR
  • Kim never followed up with them (confirmed with both potential references)


My friends dislike working for Sam, in some cases they may quit. Some of them may have also applied for the managerial job and are worried about being cast as simply being bitter they lost. In one case a friend went for the position to simply reduce the possibility of Sam gaining the job. Now they are frustrated and feeling helpless that they'll be stuck with Sam.

My suggestion:

I've suggested that they make a formal complaint about the resume and the job qualifications (there are other missing parts, but these are less severe) under the city' ethics policy. The city manager would be compelled to investigate & maintain confidentiality on the part of the complainants. I've suggested holding off for now on the other ethics issues, as they may be less effective in achieving any result. If this resulted in nothing, then perhaps new options might be explored.

Other options that have come up are:

  • Leaning more heavily on the union when conflict inevitably arises (it did during the acting period)
  • Leaking to the local newspaper which has had sympathies previously for analogous issues
  • Suck it up and accept life isn't fair and remain quietly bitter.

I worry that they will allow the last option here to happen by default. Is my advice good? Or are there other courses of action that can be taken? In at least one case an employee is willing to risk employment.

Names are not real, and can be interpreted as feminine or masculine

Yes, I know, small town workplace politics...

  • @Kilisi No offence taken, these include good friends of mine, I'm a bit frustrated for them, they have asked and as a result I offered my thoughts. – δ Δ Mar 11 '19 at 3:25
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    Well, you are aware that it is politics, so you are aware it includes power struggle between your coalition and Sam's/Kim's coalition, which will likely put them on offensive and cause them to employ all kinds of plots to retaliate. So it is advised to brace for battle, consider your steps carefully, and get all the backing and resources you can. – alex440 Mar 11 '19 at 12:10
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    How strict are the criteria that you are describing as job requirements? It's common in the US for posted job requirements to be aspirational, and it's not fraud to be hired while lacking them. In some cases the requirements are enforceable (like needing a license), and lacking the requirements is more serious. Is this a case where the requirements are truly necessary to hold the position? – Upper_Case Mar 11 '19 at 14:20
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    "I've suggested that they make a formal complaint about the resume" - This is a horrible suggestion. Stick to what can be proven, like the ethical violations, it does not sound like your friends know for a fact the experience on the resume is fake. – Donald Mar 11 '19 at 16:55
  • If "Sam" lied in the job application then this would be extremely valuable since it is recorded/provable and gives a clear and easy reason for dismissal. On the other hand you probably don't want to open with this because on its own it probably isn't enough for anyone to care about. You need to be at a point where the powers that be are already sick of hearing about Sam and then bring it to their attention as "new" information. – P. Hopkinson Mar 11 '19 at 22:18

This is taxpayer funded and taking place in an anglo-western democracy where this kind of corruption is less common (and can be fought). Your friends should absolutely be trying to get rid of Sam and arguably the director.

Club together and consult a lawyer.

I would guess that you can take at least one of the following avenues:

  • Complaint to higher-than-director government figure
  • Legal challenge
  • Public smear campaign

Ideally you want to make Sam and the director as uncomfortable as possible until one of them decides that it is easier for him to give up the position than to keep it. However, this might take time and you will need to play things by the book so it would be highly advisable to be guided by an expert (a lawyer) rather than shooting into the dark based on suggestions from the internet.

If a government workers union exists then going to them could be a cheaper and lower-effort option. Effectively you'd be doing the same thing: clubbing together for a lawyer.


If you do want to do something about it, you need to be factual.

Complaining about him getting the job in my opinion is mute, he is already there, there may be other factors at play.

I was offered a position as Application Support Analyst, taking up SQL from day one....with no previous work experience in IT. I was then assigned a project using a Java-esque language for automation, I had 0 experience in either automation or Java.

Would you have reported me?--- I did an amazing job at this project, to the point that they had to cancel the project when I was replaced because they couldn't find someone who understood the language well enough to continue the project without needing a full-fledged developer.

It is not uncommon for loyalty to be rewarded, he may have been a desk boy for 9 years by his own choice, you don't know that.

However what you know is this:

  • Misusing city vehicles (partially documented)
  • Altering time sheets after the fact (retroactively changing vacation to work time, not documented but witnessed)
  • Frequent absenteeism
  • Occasional instances of sexist behavior (certainly not regular)

Be factual about this, keep record and evidence, present to HR, anonymously if you prefer, then let them do their bidding. If after that Sam remains and continuous with the same behavior, then I would suggest brushing up your CV.

Remember it is very important to be factual!

for example:

  • Frequent absenteeism

This can be presented as "I needed some help with a [insert something you would ask his help for here] and he wasn't at his desk at 10:05am, I then had to wait until 15:15, when he returned, which has delayed my work"

He could be in a meeting, but this can be checked by HR.

Altering time-sheets, if you have evidence of the before and after.

If after raising it with HR, you feel his behavior is being condoned then you can look into whistle-blowing, specially if this is the public sector and this can impact other people.

  • a small bit of a constructive note about "I did an amazing job at this project, to the point that they had to cancel the project when I was replaced" - this statement may be construed not to your favor, if you use it in important conversations/resume, I would consider rewording it ;) – alex440 Mar 11 '19 at 12:01
  • @alex440 well I left the company, not really replaced...the other person that "replaced" me was also unexperienced in IT and was unable to continue the project... – fireshark519 Mar 11 '19 at 13:13
  • Very much appreciate the answer, I had to chose one to accept, but I couldn't agree more, I have also suggested that they keep diaries of interaction and use email where possible, so that there is more of a documentary record of anything that transpires. – δ Δ Mar 12 '19 at 0:51

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