I work at a conservative company where employees are not allowed to eat at their desk. The rule has always been in place, but has been more strictly enforced when we developed a pest infestation that was costly for the company to control. The rule seems to only be enforced for the hourly employees. I work in a department that is almost pure salaried, so our managers seem to look the other way. I am reasonably sure that this would not be the case if Human Resources department were to find out about it.

I don't care one way or the about the rule. I rarely eat at my desk and when I do, I make sure to clean up. With one exception, all of my coworkers also occasionally eat at their desk and always clean up after themselves. The one exception is the reason for my question.

A relatively new employee has been getting progressively worse about the food at her desk. There is no smell, but there is constantly food on her desk and in her desk drawers. The food in her desk are open packages of crackers and nuts. Once she had to leave work early for a medical issue and left a partially eaten plum directly on their desk. She was out for two days before she called a coworker and asked him to check her desk for the plum. When he checked her desk, he found the plum covered in pests.

I'm not sure this rises to the level that I should go to HR. I wouldn't want them to crackdown and ruin it for my coworkers anyway.

I also don't want to be the one who goes to my managers. I'm not sure my managers will care and I may damage myself in the process.

I don't think saying something to her would work. A coworker once mentioned to her that what she wears to work violates the dress code, which is a big deal here, and she blew them off.

I don't want to get her fired. She has already been disciplined when a manager caught her surfing the internet.

I do not want to deal with pests at my desk, how can I get her to stop without ruining the perk or her career?

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    Believe me, everyone is already aware. Don't get into this unless it directly affects you. Just make sure you keep your desk clean, and let management do their job as they deem necessary. Commented Jun 21, 2016 at 23:32
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    You've pretty much removed any option you might have had to do something in the second half of your question.
    – HorusKol
    Commented Jun 21, 2016 at 23:32
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    Yes you have mentally painted yourself in a corner. This is not your problem. Any half awake manager would have noticed this.
    – paparazzo
    Commented Jun 22, 2016 at 0:37
  • Don't worry, management is aware of this issue, they are just waiting for her to do a big mistake or they gave her a talk but she didn't listen, which will end up with her being left behind.
    – Gautier C
    Commented Jun 22, 2016 at 6:17
  • Sorry, but I don't see a concrete question here. Could you explain what your goal is? Do you want her to stop? Do you want to save your department (why?). Do you want to be a hero and get a promotion?
    – sleske
    Commented Jun 22, 2016 at 11:07

2 Answers 2


I think your concern that she might cause a crackdown may be valid. One bad actor wrecking a perk for everyone happens all the time.

Going to her with "I don't know if you are aware but other departments are way stricter with the no food policy that we have because of the pest infestation. Having food out constantly may bring negative management attention on everyone. I think you should try to keep your desk cleaner." Maybe it will work or maybe it won't but you will probably kick yourself if you don't say anything and she kills that perk for your department.


Stay out of it, this lady is digging herself a hole, she's been disciplined once and she will be under scrutiny.

You getting involved will just come across as petty. So just focus on your own concerns and let management take whatever course it's going to take.

Also your office cleaner needs to wake up, two days on a desk for a piece of fruit is/should be unnacceptable.

  • 3
    At my office we have a cleaner in once a week, on a Friday before the office shuts down for the weekend. The last office i worked at a cleaner would come in on a Saturday when the office was out & do the cleaning. Not every business is large enough to warrant full time cleaners; The cleaner(s) may not of even been on duty for those 2 days.
    – James T
    Commented Jun 23, 2016 at 12:10

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