My boyfriend is working in a big tech company in the US. Once he joined and showed some good success and very fast contributions, his manager got a bit scared and started to contain him and making him uncomfortable (and he kept saying it to him. Looks like he had an employee at his previous company who became his boss, so he feels insecure).

The manager is asking other colleagues to clone his projects, meaning another person is also working on the same exact thing (with a twist in names!). The manager made the place political and gave higher merit increases to less performant people. He manipulates contributions and people's expertise to reach a certain goal- giving promotion to his gang people, mostly people of same country.

He does everything to stop my bf to rise and be seen. My bf made the largest number of components for a big project, but the manager asks the program coordinators to act as if some other ones made the contributions. He gives "fun" projects to his favorite ones (and he says that in writing also). My boyfriend was expecting a promotion with his good work (which everybody knows), but in fact he got one of the low merit increases (and he knows the number for some others). There is an open-idea week where people announce their ideas. His manager misleads him about not talking about a part of his idea. He knew it, he did and exactly that part of the idea was the most received business idea in the open-idea week. And after the success, then the manager warns him he'll ask other people to work on his idea.

He doesn't have IP security. With a PhD and 7 yrs of academic and industry experience, his rank is same as his colleague with a fresh 1-yr masters (same country of the manager). He is getting very demotivated, in spite that he is one of the few who actually knows many aspects of that group.

Overall, is this something my bf should discuss with HR? Is office politics generally illegal? Which of these events are something that need to be raised? Discussing with HR usually is a suicide and they simply ask people out.

  • 6
    HR is rarely the employee's friend. HR's main interest is to protect the company. The only time that I'd go to HR is if I could PROVE that something illegal was happening.
    – MaxW
    Mar 31, 2020 at 19:55
  • 3
    Transfer to a different part of the company. Mar 31, 2020 at 20:41
  • 1
    i struggle to imagine how this question is not "too broad" Mar 31, 2020 at 21:20
  • 1
    @DarkMatter yes he is thinking on that. But he is just the most suitable person for this group.
    – Mary
    Mar 31, 2020 at 22:03
  • 1
    No not really. The manager is threatened by his existence and himself told him the story that happened in his previous job.
    – Mary
    Apr 1, 2020 at 7:45

3 Answers 3


Discussing with HR usually is a suicide and they simply ask people out.

He should make his own way out if he's as good as he thinks he is. At this point all your information is one sided, assuming it's all correct he's in the wrong place and needs to move. Whether the group will suffer or not is not his problem.


We are not privy to your partners actual work life, or the politics, lest someone here actually be a coworker of his and can vouch for what's going on at work.

So bare in mind that any answer here is mostly speculation, however I will make attempt.

First of all this is a lot of 'he says' kinda stuff. So unless you happen to be there, and I'm sure you trust your boyfriend...it's hard to know exactly if things weren't embellished. But to take your statement at face value, your partner is suffering at a job where he cannot simply trust his manager.

His manager is a typical cowardly manager who is afraid of new talent and uses said power against said talent.

This often includes:

  1. They will denounce or praise employees in whichever way benefited them most

  2. When threatened by an employees success, they will often demote you or take away projects or what have you to reduce your possibilities or demoralise you.

  3. If they are afraid you are more qualified for their job than they are, they will make it impossible for you to succeed by putting your projects on hold or cancelling them, or withhold information to prevent your success

  4. IF they don't feel respected, they'll often sabatage

  5. They'l bad mouth you behind your back between coworkers

  6. They will often steal and claim ownership of your work

  7. They'll demoralise you for your work if they realise it was better than their own

These kind of people unfortunately are aleady lost causes. Your partner is already in their bad eyes, and no amount of change on your boyfriends part will fix it, because the manager is already threatened, as such there is little to do besides complain to higher ups. Namely the managers manager.

But what will that bring? Well, depending on the policy of the company and it's size, likely HR.

Now you've already mentioned this, and if you've been on the workplace for a while now, you'll known HR is never your friend. At this point it's a matter of political gaming and risk.

If the manager is already on bad terms inside of the company, then complaining to HR may help in getting rid of the person.

But as risk goes, it may just get rid of your partner.

The typical suggestion would be to tell your partner to start looking for a new job, as it seems until this manager is gone or promoted away, your partner will never get a raise or promoted.

But there is a global pandemic and America as of this writing is suffering heavily. So this may be unwise to start changing jobs until things are more stable.

What is a better solution in my opinion is to start keeping written/printed logs of everything.

All the emails, all the threats, written documentation in a little personal (but well organised) dated notebook with everything that happens, at what times and who was there in the room to witness these events, given jobs, given assignments, when things were taken away, given to who, etc etc.

Eventually a pattern will show up and this will be good evidence to take to the managers manager, and/or HR, when the time comes that your partner has had enough and wants to show favouritism or lack there of.

The notebook seems extreme, but it'll be helpful to show that there is specific abuse of power against your partner. Besides that, a notebook is helpful to remember in general what one has done during the day regardless if work is good or bad.

But really, it's time to start perusing the internet for something better.

Something I want to point out aswell, is that this is highly unlikely a racial, or some kind discrimination related issue, as much as you liked to mention the 'people from the same country as the manager' always get the good pickings and your partner does not.

It's likely plain and simple office politics and your partner is a workthreat to their manager.

  • Very good points. Yes these are exactly what is happening and the manager is threatened. I wonder how a manager with like 3 levels up can be threatened like this. You predicted the project "delaying" part, and this happened yesterday!! (The manager said it yesterday!). My bf loves the work and it's the best work for him, but he is simply blocked.
    – Mary
    Apr 1, 2020 at 2:13

I work in tech and have been in the same position as I have been management and HR and worked across multiple projects as a Customer Service, Support, Marketing, QA, Training. I left from an international Fortune 50 company to go to a smaller sub 100 employee software company and as soon as I got there I had problems with existing employees that did not like the fact that I was holding people accountable for their work. I had a manager that basically had a Laissez-faire management style that wouldn't say anything to anyone when there was a problem. had no problems coming to you with other peoples unsubstantiated complaints though. Would always ask me for help with special project that involved saving clients for sales where sales would get paid portions of each sale. We were responsible for getting clients to renew their maintenance and when I started none of the clients wanted to renew because their support was horrible.

I was the only person on my team that had technical certs and experience with troubleshooting from an ISP standpoint as we were developing cloud software. I understood the business across departments so I was always working on supporting multiple departments. I was actually the Marketing Manager for a while when a ton of employees left so I knew everything about the business from marketing to sales.

When my 3 year old daughter was found to have soft tissue cancer they kept saying they wanted me to move to another position but it never materialized and I got run around in circles. That's where my problems started. They were giving raises to people that were actively stalling communication between projects or not answering support calls, not even creating cases. These employees were sabotaging peoples work.

A non management devops middleman was intentionally questioning whatever decisions I would make when if someone else had the same problem they wouldn't say anything. We actually had to have a meeting just to say he wasn't reading my emails. I was doing support for SQL Databases via my manager and no one on my team was trained to do support for fixing databases and they wouldn't pay to have anyone certified or trained but wanted me to train my coworkers for nothing.

Most people will throw out the I am not a lawyer speech but you don't have to be a lawyer to defend yourself from shady unethical business practices. I can tell you from my own experience and you can look up my NLRB case against the company I worked for.

You will find some of the people responding to the these posts are lawyers with a vested interest in only protecting Employers and not Employees. These law firms depend on people being uneducated about Federal and State law, state workforce regulations and existing cases or actions against companies.

Things I tried that did not work: Staying out of the office to not deal with their office drama. Going to my manager. Documenting the problems in my review that still hadn't been resolved Having meetings with the manager over the guy that was harassing me at work. Having a skip-level meeting with my manager's manager. (He didn't care.) Talking to HR. (Local HR wasn't even HR. No certification/qualification.) Reporting the issue to 3rd party HR company.

Everything that actually helped me was cover your assets type stuff.

  • Your boyfriend needs to download all of his emails, emails to management, emails to coworkers. The more evidence that supports hit timeline the better.
  • He needs to write down or record all of the instances that they have said one thing and done another to establish a pattern.
  • He will want to obtain sworn affidavits from his trusted coworkers.
  • He needs to file a complaint with both the EEOC, the States Workforce Commission and NLRB.
  • Any audio, or visual recordings of conversations, or meetings he needs to keep to himself and supply them along with his complaints. In some cases this is the only way to catch sheisty HR & Management in the act.

  • The process is not instant unless he really has some good evidence. He can use the State/Federal rules of evidence to get his info in order it will make it hard to dispute.

  • Employers have a vested interested in not acknowledging fault.
  • Coworkers tend to ignore harassment when it comes to their own paycheck.
  • Do not attempt to manage the issue via HR or local management.
  • Do not take any lawyer's recommendation that he just find another job or it's not worth it. This put me in the situation of not being able to get my job back. I ended up having to settle and they had to tell everyone one that I hadn't done anything wrong, and they had to erase any negative feedback from my record. Just asking for an opinion ruined my case. Apparently there is more power in being ignorant when taking a case to court.
  • He can look for a new job but the company can sabotage his ability to work with others in the future.

  • Your boyfriend has a timer working against anything he says when he files complaints. I know because I filed a complaint years before and I was able to use that info in my second filing. They will try and wait out any complaints that were made as if they were resolved when they really just stalled for time.

His best move is to file first and ask questions later. They won't be able to fire him for no reason during the investigation because it would be easy to claim retaliation and once they start investigating all of the records they kept on management will be there for discovery. If he tells them in advance they can just destroy the records before an investigation even happens.

Someone mentioned the virus outbreak but this is the best time to file because the EEOC and NLRB are all working from home. Council is not traveling around trying to deal with filings either. I have a friend that is dealing with a company right now (termination without cause) and their council can't even travel to our state because of the quarantine without being put in quarantine for 14 days. So the amount of time you can file has been stretched out.

If you want specifics on what I had to deal with and what else to watch out for we can have a conversation over on Discord. Then you can layout what he should do next.

  • I see. So the point here is to file with outside party (EEOC) and not inside HR at all.
    – Mary
    Apr 1, 2020 at 7:43

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .