Woman Reporting Colleague to HR for Hinting She 'Wasn't Cool' Backed

Working with people you once knew from high school can be a positive experience for some, but the blast from the past isn't enjoyable for this employee.

Published on Reddit's r/AmITheA**hole forum, a woman under the name u/Wooden-Lion6192 shared her story to receive feedback from the "AITA" community. The post has so far received over 6,800 upvotes.

The original poster (OP) has explained she works for a company with approximately 50 employees—one of which is new to the firm, but a familiar face to the OP as they went to the same high school.

"She did not bully me or anyone else in any which way, but was definitely higher on the social hierarchy than me, and was one of those people who then essentially ignored everyone below her," she wrote.

Young woman whispering in ear of her colleague
A Reddit post has gone viral about work place bullying. Here is a stock image of women whispering. PrathanChorruangsak/iStock/Getty Images Plus

The OP explained she "never liked her" at school because she would visibly look annoyed if they were paired together for an assignment.

However, when she joined the working team, the OP decided to be "professional and not bring this dislike forward."

She explained she treated her new co-worker "completely normal" but it soon became apparent that the old classmate had been telling others how "different" the OP is now.

"If asked to go into detail, she would say I used to be shy and quiet. I fully understand that she did not know me, which may have been her perception of me."

The OP explained she is the "exact same person" but has slightly matured since high school.

"I wouldn't mind if she'd said this once as a 'huh, I guess she's more extroverted than I thought.' But she keeps repeating it to everyone who will hear. To me at this point, based on what I've been told by co-workers, I feel like she's trying to make the point that I wasn't cool, and she's using coded language to imply that without actually saying it."

The OP explained she was accused of overreacting when she asked her colleague about the comments and stated she would like her to stop.

"She's kept on doing it over several months so now I've made an official complaint to HR who don't think it's a huge deal, but have spoken to her telling her it's making me feel uncomfortable.

"She has called me an a**hole for reporting her and having something on her record, and for making her feel uncomfortable at her new workplace. She also said that I'm the only one who's holding onto how things were in high school, as I was and must still be jealous of her and am now taking my revenge."

Donna Clark-Love, who is a bully expert based in Houston, Texas, told Newsweek: "I do believe, in this particular case, u/Wooden-Lions6192 has experienced workplace bullying by her co-worker. Bullying is defined as the repeated less favorable treatment of a person by another or others in the workplace."

According to 2021 survey results, some 33 percent of female bullies target other women, according to the Workplace Bullying Institute.

The survey also revealed 52 percent of American targets are in a non-management position and 40 percent are.

What Should the Original Poster Do?

Donna, who is a Licensed Chemically Dependent Counselor, has provided the following tips:

  • Keep a paper trail of all of the incidents reported to you with all of the dates, places, what she has said, and who was present.
  • Do not engage with the bully anymore about the situation and if you have a work-related task where the bully is present, enlist a witness to be with you the whole time.
  • Meet with HR again; outline the bullying incidents (times, dates, etc.) that have occurred since you contacted them the first time and ask them these two questions," What action/intervention plan do they have in place for stopping this bullying behavior?" and "How can they make the workplace safer for you so that this does not have to be a hostile work environment?"
  • Do not leave the HR meeting without feeling some assurance that you have been heard and that there is or will be an action plan to be implemented.

AITA?

The OP has edited the post to respond to some criticism she has received about the "lack of detail."

She explained a conversation that occurred at a pub after work whereby they were talking about sex toys. The OP insists they are relevant to their work and aren't too unprofessional.

She added: "The person sitting next to this girl heard her gasp and then laugh to herself. The coworker asked what was up, and she replied "oh nothing, it's just so weird, oh ignore me. If you knew what she was like before you'd understand why it's funny."

"I couldn't hear any of this. The coworker told me because he interpreted that as her making a dig that she couldn't imagine me being sexually active. I hope that makes sense that she never says anything too bad, but it's usually the context that makes it so."

The original poster has received support from other Redditors, the top comment has received over 11,000 upvotes, it said: "I think when she said that 'you are still jealous' she really exposed herself. She thought in high school that she was better than OP and she still does. These things are not in OP's head."

Another said: "Haha we call those people 'high school heroes.' They still live in their high school glory days in their head because that was when their life was the best it will ever be."

While this Redditor took matters into her own hands, a spokesperson for UK-based workplace expert Acas told Newsweek it is an employer's "duty of care" to look after their staff.

Senior Acas Advisor Gary Wedderburn said: "Employers should have a workplace policy on how to deal with bullying. Even if they do not, they have a duty of care to protect staff at work, including dealing with bullying. Acas has advice on how to raise a problem at work and employees can contact us for confidential support."

STOP BULLYING NOW HOTLINE (USA): Supported by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the helpline is available 24/7: 800-273-8255.

Newsweek reached out to u/Wooden-Lion6192 for comment. We could not verify the details of the case.