Man Outing Colleague in Front of Boss for Telling Lies Over Lateness Backed

A disgruntled employee has described a challenging situation in the work place when they were caught out in a little white lie.

Mumsnet user PixiePolka explained how they found themselves in a familiar situation where they slept in and was going to be late for work. In a moment of creativity, they decided to tell their boss that there was a traffic jam and sent the message with a Google image of a traffic jam.

After showering, they returned to their phone to find that "all hell had broken loose on the team chat." They had accidentally posted a picture of a French road, which had been picked up on by a colleague.

Stressed employee
A stock image of a stressed employee at desk, head in hands. A Mumsnet user has asked for advice after being caught in a white lie at work. millann/Getty Images

The poster explained that, two weeks on, this colleague "won't let it lie," making comments such as "perhaps you could get some freshly baked croissants on your way in tomorrow." This made everyone laugh, but the employee had to explain the situation to the big boss.

The poster wrote on Mumsnet: "I just want to make him stop without letting him know he's getting to me. Any suggestions?"

Heather Albarano, owner of a human-resources consultancy group who has worked in the industry for 20 years, told Newsweek her opinion about the workplace nightmare.

"Honesty is always the best policy when there is a mistake. When coaching an employee, we encourage them to own up to what happened and proactively share what actions or steps they are going to take to prevent it from happening again in the future," said Albarano. "We see honest mistakes turn into major issues when someone is not being forthcoming, and even larger issues when someone is lying.

"It is very hard to come back from a lie. The best option would be take a step back and share what happened and what prompted you to not tell the truth in first place. If you did it because you were embarrassed or were worried you would get into trouble, etc., share that and be humble and apologetic.

"Whether you made a mistake or you were caught lying, it is not appropriate for it to be used against you by a co-worker.

"I would say in this case it does not reach the level of legal harassment as that is usually focused on a protected class of employees (i.e. color, race, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, genetic information."

Albarano added: "Depending on the state, it could fall under bullying laws, and at a minimum, is creating an uncomfortable work environment for an employee who is being picked on, mocked or made fun of, and that needs to be addressed.

"If the company has an Employee Assistance Program (EAP), I would encourage the employee to reach out for some free support with professional counselors who can help navigate tricky employment situations.

"There are a few ways this situation could be dealt with: ignore it, join in on the joke (wear a beret, bring in pastries)," said Albarano. "I would definitely recommend a direct approach, saying something to the employee like, 'I understand I messed up but I am getting tired of these jokes and feel like it is time to move on.' If the employee does not respond, I would escalate it to a manager or HR for support."

Despite the mistake, 92 percent of people on Mumsnet voted that PixiePolka is being unreasonable.

One user wrote: "Don't lie, or lie but don't send incriminating photographic evidence."

User whichwaywhere wrote: "First rule of getting away with it is to keep it simple. I'd have said 'Well obviously I just used a stock traffic image to make my point' and then left it and ignored him."

Loics posted, "Sorry but it's 100% deserved in this situation," while Coffeellama commented: "Serves you right for your stupid lie! Next time say sorry I slept in, I'm on my way. He might be annoying but liars are far more annoying in my opinion."

Newsweek was not able to verify the details of the case.

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