Obviously, this is still ongoing and has started maybe two or more years ago in my office. One of my coworkers, let’s just call her Sara, used the company’s educational services to go back to school to get herself a bachelor's degree in a relevant field (her current bachelor’s degree is in Exercise Health Science). After much convincing, she finally decided on Computer Engineering after everyone begging her to do so.

At first things were fine, as most of the things she asked about were computer related (explain why X gives you it). Then she ended up joining some sort of club where you would hear increasingly strange assertions usually against men. It never really got anywhere beyond a few borderline HR comments, occasionally.

Fast forward to a few months ago, she’s given a task to gather a few people and create an interactive presentation for our CTO and external partners. I was a bit worried that she may include some interesting material, so I tried to keep in contact with her team whenever I could remember. As of last week, I heard from some sources who were too afraid to speak up, she changed majors to Gender Studies and is taken classes called “Lesbian Literature” and “Angry White Male Students” (I am not making this up, these are real classes I looked up). She ended up scrapping the entire interactive presentation, removed it everywhere, and quickly put together something about how all men are out to get women filled with conspiracies that have nothing to do with Gender Studies, potentially muddying that field of study. Further, she put in some personal material against me and others (she somehow found out about something that could put my marriage at risk and WILL get out..it's not my fault).

Now I have asked a few of those team members to stop her and report her to her manager, but nothing seems to be happening and everyone wants to watch this fail. HR and other groups even mention that it’s not my responsibility to handle this. What can I do to stop this train wreck, not just for me, but for all of those involved?

EDIT: I asked her to remove me from her presentation and she did. Thanks!

  • 9
    What presentation was that? With whom was the "presentation" shared? How did you learn about its content? Why is it a problem for you what your colleague studied? How do you know what courses she took? Where did she put "some material" against you? What is it? The whole thing sounds utterly improbable as if someone was trying to create controversy and conflict ("Angry White Male" honestly?), I'm voting to close it.
    – BigMadAndy
    Apr 8, 2020 at 18:57
  • 38
    Some advice for the OP who posted this question. None of the backstory about Sara going to school, her studies, or groups she associates with has anything to do with your question or predicament. It actually reduces the clarity of your questions to present this. The actual question is that you have co-worker behaving erratically who is about give a presentation that embarrasses both herself and you. Consider getting the superfluous details out of the question and get to the actual facts of what's about to go down.
    – selbie
    Apr 8, 2020 at 19:12
  • 24
    You're not helping matters by getting personal in a fight with commenters. Your question already displays a peculiar level of interest in the affairs of someone supposedly distant from you. The intemperance toward simple questions suggests there's a whole lot more going on here, that you're not tellin'. You can see where that's a problem when you are asking for answers; you'll get answers for the situation you want it to be, instead of the situation it is. Who cares, except it wastes the time of kindly answerers. Apr 8, 2020 at 19:44
  • 1
    this question is very hard to follow can someone explain what is going on in simple terms please?
    – user13267
    Apr 9, 2020 at 2:33
  • 2
    @user13267 I get the impression that her embezzling company funds to pay for her feminist education is incidental to the actual problem the OP wants a solution for.
    – nick012000
    Apr 9, 2020 at 3:25

3 Answers 3


Seek legal advice, as in, a lawyer in the city/state/country where you are. A few hours of a lawyer's time might be pricey, but not nearly as much as a breakup of a marriage.

Normally such a presentation should really be left to fail, but if your personal life can be seriously affected, you could potentially tell HR that if she exposes any of your personal info in public, you will consider legal action. Companies usually want to avoid that, and might tell her to shut up, not out of any sense of ethics, but to protect themselves from a lawsuit.

But for that, first get an advice from a real lawyer, not from me or anyone here.

Also, this could put you at odds with your company, since you would in effect threaten to sue them. Measure pros and cons well.

A smart HR person would contact her and told her to be careful not to put any info about anyone's personal life in the presentation, without commenting on the presentation in general. That, however, is what a smart HR would do. What a real one will or won't do is anyone's guess.

If your company lets her use the company educational services without verifying that she stays in a field relevant to her job, well, that's already an indication that not everything is as it should be there.

  • 2
    The fact that HR knowingly wants to let this presentation happen speaks volumes against their competency, so I cannot say loudly enough how important it is for OP to lawyer up and do it now. Apr 8, 2020 at 18:10
  • Thanks, I did not think of the lawyer approach. I do not have a lot of money, so I will need to figure out a way to approach one. Apr 8, 2020 at 19:22

I thought of that, but I could not prove it and the only reason I know is from second hand. HR wanted some solid evidence before they'll allow anyone to even touch this

Did you make the request to HR in writing? If not, you do need to create a paper trail, for when things finally explode. If you had this conversation over the phone, you need to retroactively memorialize what HR said to you in an email.

But be careful, do not make it about her major or the classes she's taking.

Focus solely on how she's targeting you and creating a hostile work environment for you. For instance, how come were you already suspicious of her presentation? How did you already know to keep tabs on her through her coworkers?

She must have made comments to you before. Or something must have happened. And even if there were no witnesses to it, sometimes HR may be duty-bound and legally required to investigate (or at least, HR may be required to record people's statements).

And I agree with Dragan, you'll probably need to consult your own lawyer on this. HR is not your friend. Maybe what she's doing to you could be considered workplace bullying, or sexual harassment. Or maybe she'll turn around and accuse you of sexual harassment. Either way, I think consulting a lawyer that specializes in that kind of thing would be a good idea right now.

Also, giving your wife a heads-up may be a good idea as well. And if you can't be open with her right now, you may want to consider getting some marriage counseling (or because of Covid19, some remote marriage counseling at least).


Further, she put in some personal material against me and others (she somehow found out about something that could put my marriage at risk and WILL get out..it's not my fault).

This right here is your way out. Make a complaint to HR and say that the colleague is using company resources to defame your character and harass you. Also, seek legal advice.

  • I thought of that, but I could not prove it and the only reason I know is from second hand. HR wanted some solid evidence before they'll allow anyone to even touch this. Apr 8, 2020 at 16:20
  • HR wants to wait for the company to become liable before they'll act? Apr 8, 2020 at 19:12
  • I don't know what actions HR wants to do. Apr 8, 2020 at 19:21
  • 6
    Because you are handling this the way you handle everything else, by talking to people. Everything is just gossip until it's put on paper and notarized. Write it out, have a notary stamp it, now it's real and now they're touching it whether they like it or not. Apr 8, 2020 at 19:40

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