Ask Kari: What can I do about a dishonest colleague?

Dear Kari,

I’ve been reading your column for a while now and decided to ask you for your professional advice. I work with a girl who pads her timesheet almost everyday. She never reports to work on time. Even if she were an hour late to work, she would write down the time she was supposed to be there. And for lunch, she takes one and half-hour break but only says she left for half an hour. When she leaves early after work, she’d write down she left at least an hour after her real time.

She is kind of my supervisor and I feel like I cannot say anything to my boss because they’re both like best friends. My boss values her opinions and suggestions more than anyone else. It’s just unfair to the rest of us who are doing the right thing. I feel that my boss deserves to know this behavior of hers but I don’t want things to be awkward. I cannot submit an anonymous letter because I work in a really small office. This girl is always making me do everything in the office. All she does is sit at work and surfs the web while I work myself to death. I am so stressed about this whole situation. As a supervisor, she should be setting a good example for others. What do you suggest that I do?

Frustrated Colleague

Dear Frustrated Colleague,

You are in a difficult situation as it appears that your co-worker has a stronger alliance with your boss that you do based on your descriptions of their interactions. The issue of padding one’s timesheet is both illegal and immoral. You could try a gentle conversation with your boss and mention that “there is a lot to do and not everyone comes in on time everyday”, and see where that goes without naming names. If that soft approach does not work, I suggest that you consider your ability to ignore the situation based on liking other parts of your job and remain with your current employer, or acknowledge that this situation is a deal breaker for you and begin to pursue other professional opportunities. It is not fair that you would need to leave your job vs. your cheating co-worker, but sometimes dynamics are not fair in life and we need to recognize that our choices sometimes only include what we power to change in our lives (i.e. you deciding if you can and want to remain in this situation).


As published in the March 2014 issue of Connections.


About Kari:

Kari O’Neill, MSW, LICSW, is a licensed independent clinical social worker and a resident of Issaquah Highlands.

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