moonlighting coworker
June 16, 2008 10:40 AM   Subscribe

What to do about a moonlighting coworker?

People on the team are upset about this, but the manager has no clue. Basically, the co-worker is teaching week-long classes during regular work hours (she works from home), not taking vacation time, missing phone meetings with the group. She has lied to the manager about what she was doing and why she missed the meeting.

Company has an anonymous ethics hotline already used to report a different thing this co-worker was doing with company resources, but doesn't seem appropriate in this situation.

No one is willing to put their own name on the line as they don't want to make it seem as if they have a personal grudge. Of course, they might, but they still don't want to get personally involved, but are very frustrated by how the coworker is getting away with a second paying job on company time.
posted by Rae Datter to Work & Money (36 answers total)
 
Is it affecting your work other than her missing the meeting? If not, leave it alone.
posted by k8t at 10:51 AM on June 16, 2008 [2 favorites]


Agreeing with k8t. You don't know why she needs a second job. Though I am pretty confident in thinking her reason isn't "Ha HA. Now I can totally screw over my coworkers by taking on another job!!!! That'll show them!"
posted by spec80 at 10:59 AM on June 16, 2008


Your only business is that this person is missing meetings and affecting the team's work. Just report that, to your manager.
posted by poppo at 11:00 AM on June 16, 2008 [1 favorite]


i don't think the issue is that this woman has a second job, but that she is doing job 2 during the same hours she is supposed to be doing job 1 (and getting paid for it).

job 2 is causing her to miss meetings and so on at job 1, and so therefore job 2 is an issue, and should be reported.

i don't see why the ethics hotline is not appropriate here. call it.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 11:03 AM on June 16, 2008 [5 favorites]


The anon ethics hotline sounds perfectly appropriate for this situation. I don't agree that the coworker should only be reported if she directly impacts your own work. Her actions are impacting the morale of her coworkers which is plenty of an impact.
posted by jamaro at 11:04 AM on June 16, 2008


thanks misanthropicsarah... if this was a question of 2 jobs only, that would not be a big deal. However, it's that she's doing it at the same time she should be doing her regular work. People need to be able to reach her during regular office hours.
posted by Rae Datter at 11:04 AM on June 16, 2008


but are very frustrated by how the coworker is getting away with a second paying job on company time.

That is none of your business; it is between her and the company.

What is your business is whether and how her lack of due diligence to her work is affecting your performance. If it is not affecting your performance, you don't really have much room to go tattling on her. Even if it is, you need to confine yourself to "Lucy didn't do X, and I needed X done so I could complete Y, how can we handle this and make sure it doesn't happen again?" when you talk to your boss, and not bring in speculation about her private life.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 11:06 AM on June 16, 2008


I could use some clarification on this part: "the co-worker is teaching week-long classes during regular work hours (she works from home), not taking vacation time, missing phone meetings with the group. She has lied to the manager about what she was doing and why she missed the meeting."

Is what you mean to say here that she a) took vacation time which b) caused her to miss one or more phone meetings, and that you found out that she c) was teaching a week-long class during that vacation time? That's how I'm reading it anyhow.

If this is the case, leave it alone. She can do whatever she likes - including working for pay - during her paid vacation. Its her time to do as she pleases. If she had been actually doing vacation stuff which caused her to miss the phone meetings, would you be as upset?

And, did she actually lie (ie: say "I'm going to Bermuda" when she was actually staying home to teach this class) or did she just say "I'm on vacation" or "I won't be available." There's a big difference between those two things.
posted by anastasiav at 11:09 AM on June 16, 2008


I don't think that you would be wrong to report this co-worker, but I do think that it might cause you more trouble than it's worth if they somehow find out if was you that made the report. Far better to make sure that a manager knows that this person isn't available for meetings and is generally dropping the ball. Let a manager deal with it, it's what they get paid for.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 11:09 AM on June 16, 2008


Oh, no. She is NOT taking time off officially. So she is not doing her job for an entire week- at least not during regular business hours.

When she missed the meeting, she was teaching the class and lied about doing something work related.
posted by Rae Datter at 11:11 AM on June 16, 2008


Keep a written record of work undone and meetings missed. When it seems significant, objectively, you can give it to your manager without looking like you have an ax to grind.
posted by sondrialiac at 11:12 AM on June 16, 2008


Again: your problem is that she missed the meeting and impacted your performance. Whatever else she is doing is a problem between her and her employer--not you.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 11:13 AM on June 16, 2008


Again: your problem is that she missed the meeting and impacted your performance. Whatever else she is doing is a problem between her and her employer--not you.

This is wrong. Wrong. If someone is not getting things done at work, then everyone else has to pick up the slack.
posted by mkb at 11:16 AM on June 16, 2008


Okay, so theoretically no one had to pick up the slack. I still see that this is dishonest.

I have to say I am biased in that I believe lying about the time you are spending on your job, when given a lot of freedom, is wrong. It's definitely having an impact on the relationships within the group more than the amount f work being done. However, I do appreciate and understand the thinking that it is the business between the employee and the company.
posted by Rae Datter at 11:21 AM on June 16, 2008


I think the ethics line is a very appropriate call in this case. I agree with previous comments - she is impacting the team morale and overall work ethic and her getting away with this is likely to promote others doing the same in the future. Tell the ethics line, then drop it.

If you don't feel comfortable calling the ethics line, what about talking to her directly, either by yourself or with other affected members of the team and relaying your concern about the increased burden being placed on the rest of the team. Tell her that you need her to be forthright with your manager and give her the opportunity to tell him, making it implicit that if she doesn't spill the beans that you (all) will. If she refuses, send him a brief memo. Get as many of your team members to sign it as possible so you aren't the "bad guy".
posted by arnicae at 11:27 AM on June 16, 2008


If no one had to pick up this person's slack, I don't see how this is anything but an ethics situation. The hotline is appropriate and anonymous. It seems like the way to go.
posted by boomchicka at 11:32 AM on June 16, 2008


It seems that your only concern is that its not fair that she is using the freedom she's given to take on another job, not that her performance has been affected. If all her work gets done, why does it matter when she does it?

Your post isn't clear whether this was a meeting or meetings that she's missed, because that makes a difference, lying about why she missed a meeting is bad but not worth making a big deal of but continually missing meetings is a different matter and you should have a discrete word with your boss that you believe her reasons for missing meetings are lies or that her missing the meetings is affecting the team.
posted by missmagenta at 11:42 AM on June 16, 2008 [1 favorite]


In addition to even if you don't have to pick up the slack, if she's not promptly slapped down for this, how will management feel in the future when you want to telecommute? "Hmmm, studies say that productivity can stay the same, but do you remember that one woman we tried it with? Her productivity went in the toilet. We'll keep you working in the office.

As well, there's the issue of morale. You have to live in your workplace for X hours a day, and if many are pissed about her, it will be a less pleasant environment.

Definitely start with the anonymous ethics hotline, and maybe wait a few weeks. If it's still continuing, setup a throw away mail account that you sign up for using a web proxy, and rat her ass out to every higher up that you have the email for.
posted by nobeagle at 11:43 AM on June 16, 2008


It's definitely having an impact on the relationships within the group more than the amount f work being done.

In my experience, those two things are more closely related than seen on the surface. What often happens is an coworker A gets away with X, where X = some abuse of trust. Other coworkers see coworker A get away with X and over a surprisingly short period of time, resentment builds. Some coworkers react to the resentment by engaging in their own form of abuse (such as slacking off or petty pilfering or being mean to coworker A) or internalizing it by feeling crappy about themselves for being hard-working chumps. If enough of the team does this, the work load increases dramatically for the few who are still diligently staying on task. Overall, the performance of the team suffers and if you happen to be working for a company which profit-shares, your share of the profit suffers.

It is your business. Being in the above situation will poison how you feel about working there and that's a crappy way to spend the majority of your waking hours.
posted by jamaro at 11:43 AM on June 16, 2008 [5 favorites]


I've been in situations at work where there's a person that is not pulling their weight, but still getting away with it. It becomes demoralizing to everyone else quickly, even if they don't always need to pick up the slack. I've always taken pride in the work that I do, and so do most of the people that I work with. When someone else shows that they don't care and they get away with subpar performance, it can quickly create a "why bother" attitude in the workplace.

I understand where those who say that" if it doesn't directly impact you, don't report it" are coming from. However, if it's poisoning the office, then you might wanna hit that ethics hotline.
posted by azpenguin at 12:06 PM on June 16, 2008


Issues around fairness are highly linked to the anger and cynicism that are linked to burnout. This is a problem, even if you are not directly picking up her slack.

It is worth reporting to the hotline, and may even be worth discussing with your manager or HR under the heading of "We have a morale issue because one of us is abusing our trust and taking advantage of the entire company"
posted by stefanie at 12:06 PM on June 16, 2008 [3 favorites]


Call the ethics hotline and leave an anonymous report. That's what it's there for. I agree that it is your business, in that the other person's activites are impacting your work performance, and also, since you know what's going on, put you in the uncomfortable position of being complicit to your coworker's lying to management.
posted by emd3737 at 12:13 PM on June 16, 2008 [2 favorites]


I truly wish you luck in dealing with this situation. I stand by my original post, but if you do report this and put your name down when your co-workers will not, do not be surprised if they do not back you up. They just sit there while you explain the situation and are not passionate as they were when they were speaking to only you or do not even participate at all.

I have never experienced your particular situation, but I have experienced being the bullhorn for others' complaints. I looked and felt like an idiot because I was left to dry. I ended up leaving that job and am much happier now.
posted by spec80 at 12:25 PM on June 16, 2008


She missed meetings and lied about the reason for one missed meeting. That alone is enough. She was not available during the hours she is supposed to be, too. It seems you know this is because she is moonlighting, although that is starting to get into the background area. I can't imagine why people haven't reported this already. The moonlighting isn't your right to complain about, unless not moonlighting is a term of your employment, but it will probably come up in the background explanation and then it's up to someone else to decide and do something about it, and I imagine that will be some relief. And I don't see why the anonymous ethics line isn't appropriate.
posted by Listener at 12:27 PM on June 16, 2008 [1 favorite]


So she is not doing her job for an entire week- at least not during regular business hours.

You seem very concerned about her doing her job during regular business hours. If (big if) she gets the work done without interfering with the work of others, who cares whether she gets it done during regular hours or during evenings and weekends? Let go of that concern. If she's a salaried employee, then "regular business hours" isn't that relevant of a concept anyway if work is getting accomplished properly. Focus on whether she's getting the work done and whether it's affecting the others on the team. (And genuinely affecting the work of members of the team, not "It's affecting me because I'm annoyed that she's getting away with it!")

People need to be able to reach her during regular office hours.

Fair enough. If her unreachableness and her missing meetings are causing problems (beyond the magnitude of the problems that the average person in your office causes when they occasionally drop the ball), then talk about how that affected you, like dnab suggested ("Lucy didn't do X, and I needed X done so I could complete Y, how can we handle this and make sure it doesn't happen again?") If collectively it's clearly a problem, but people are hesitant to speak up individually, then maybe you should combine them into one list. ("Last week alone, five team members were negatively impacted by Lucy. On Monday, Lucy didn't do X, and it delayed Alice being able to do Y. On Tuesday, Lucy didn't do Z, and Bob had to spent an extra three hours tracking it down himself. On Wednesday, Lucy and Carl were supposed to work on X, but Carl ended up doing the whole thing...")
posted by EmilyClimbs at 12:41 PM on June 16, 2008 [1 favorite]


Did anyone speak directly to her and say, this is a problem that you are missing meetings, and we need to be able to reach you during regular business hours? If she is made aware by your team, maybe the problem will be resolved - she'll make sure she is available at these times, and as long as she gets her work done, maybe she'll do her other stuff during work hours, maybe not, no one will be the wiser.
posted by citron at 1:20 PM on June 16, 2008


wow, a lot of apologizing for this person here. I am hardly ever in favor of narcing to the boss, but it clearly seems warranted here. I think her missing the meetings must impact your work. Otherwise, why is she in the meeting? Why does the meeting exist, if not to help all of you get your work done?

She sounds like a horrible team member. Not because she is ripping off the company (she clearly is), but because she has zero respect for the people she works with. Any team would be made better by eliminating someone like her.

The ethics hotline sounds like a good solution, but actually so does gathering evidence and telling on her directly, as a group. If your boss has to choose between her and the entire rest of the team, it won't be a hard choice.
posted by drjimmy11 at 1:40 PM on June 16, 2008


Your only issue here is how this is affecting you. If she's causing you extra work, bring it up with her. If I were a manager I would seriously not even want to know about this.
posted by xammerboy at 2:05 PM on June 16, 2008


If I were a manager I would seriously not even want to know about this.

That kind of attitude would make you part of the problem rather than a part of the solution. A good manager knows that anything that affects the team negatively can end up decreasing productivity. Therefore, it needs to be on your radar screen so you can find a way to mitigate against it.

Something like this, that is lowering team morale, is important to deal with before it gets out of hand. I would say to use the ethics hotline - it's what it's there for.
posted by gemmy at 2:51 PM on June 16, 2008


I dunno. For one, we only have your side of it. You say this is affecting everyone in the team. However, for all we know, it may just be really irking you and you are fomenting negativity toward this coworker amongst the team. There are just too many variables at play.

Secondly, an employee snitch line is just not a good thing, even with the spin-ish name of "ethics" hotline. Having employees informing on each other is an axe to the neck of morale.

Talk to your co-worker directly if this is really, truly affecting your work, and not just pissing you off because she's getting away with something.
posted by Thorzdad at 3:12 PM on June 16, 2008 [1 favorite]


I agree that a call to the ethics hotline could be appropriate, but you might want to consider the possibility that her telecommuting agreement says that it doesn't matter when she gets her work done, just that she gets it done. Her missing a meeting and lying about it is a bad sign. But from your later comments it sounds like one meeting.

If coworkers resent the fact that she's teaching a class during their work hours, that's a problem that needs to be addressed. However, it isn't an ethical problem unless she's barred by your ethics policy from working a second job or is clearly lying and neglecting the job she was hired to do.

It sounds to me like a managerial problem that should be quietly mentioned to her manager, maybe along the lines of "We ran into trouble last week because Greta missed our meeting. It seems she was busy teaching her class then." And then let the manager say something. It could be, "Class? What class?" or it could be "I'll remind her of her promise to be available for daytime meetings even though she's working at night for awhile." And then you could mention that the team members didn't know that Greta would be working at night and were therefore confused/frustrated/etc.
posted by PatoPata at 3:17 PM on June 16, 2008 [3 favorites]


1- the lie regarding her whereabouts was to the manager who asked where she was. It is not like he agreed to this schedule.
2-many are making assumptions about the work-from-home aspect. In truth, it requires, with some flexibility, being around to answer phone calls and to do business-to-business with customers. During business hours.
3-these classes are for a week at a time, full 8-hour day, and are scheduled for more than this one instance.
I understand the reaction to the idea that this is just a sour-grapes attitude. However, an agreement with the company that everyone else keeps has been broken.

Thanks for good discussion.
posted by Rae Datter at 5:55 PM on June 16, 2008


Dear Askme,
I have this great opportunity to teach a class, its something I want to do and if all goes well this could be a great new career. Unfortunately, the class is this week, during business hours!
I don't have any leave available and it would be unlikely to be approved at this late date anyway.
I work from home, and I could teach the class without anybody noticing. I would obviously complete my regular work after hours, and I can return messages in breaks, the only trouble is I would have to miss a telephone meeting.
I don't want to burn any bridges in case this doesn't work out, and there is at least one co-worker who would be resentful if they found out I was moonlighting.
At the moment I am considering just skipping the meeting, but I don't want upset anyone.
On the other hand, I don't want to miss this opportunity.
What should I do?
Anonymous
posted by bystander at 4:36 AM on June 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


As long as she's getting her work done, I don't think its any of your business. I realize she's missed a meeting, but.... are you really going to call someone out over that? Write her an email, and remind her she's missed the meeting and ask that she not miss any more.
posted by xammerboy at 9:23 AM on June 17, 2008


Dear Askme,
I have this great opportunity to teach a class, its something I want to do and if all goes well this could be a great new career. Unfortunately, the class is this week, during business hours!
I don't have any leave available and it would be unlikely to be approved at this late date anyway.
I work from home, and I could teach the class without anybody noticing. I would obviously complete my regular work after hours, and I can return messages in breaks, the only trouble is I would have to miss a telephone meeting.
I don't want to burn any bridges in case this doesn't work out, and there is at least one co-worker who would be resentful if they found out I was moonlighting.
At the moment I am considering just skipping the meeting, but I don't want upset anyone.
On the other hand, I don't want to miss this opportunity.
What should I do?
Anonymous


Ask your boss for unpaid leave. If he won't give it, suck it up and do the job you're paid to do. There is no way you can do two 40-hour-a-week jobs at once without one of them suffering. Allowing you to work from home is generous, but it requires that you have the maturity and responsibility to do your job at home.
posted by sondrialiac at 10:32 AM on June 17, 2008


Are you her manager? If not, then it's none of your business. Let her manager deal with her when and if he/she deems appropriate. You sound a little bit jealous and seem to be doing it out of jealousy.
posted by onepapertiger at 2:09 PM on June 18, 2008


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