Q: A few days ago, while I was away from my desk, a co-worker used my computer to send out a very offensive email under my name. “Hannah“ included everyone in our department on this message. When I confronted her, she laughed and said it was just a joke. She refuses to send another email explaining that the offensive message really came from her.
Our company monitors employee email accounts, so Hannah’s prank could actually get me in trouble. My boss might be able to help, but I hate to complain to him because I already feel like an outsider here. I am almost 50, while my co-workers are all in their 20s and 30s. What’s the best way to handle this?
A: Since there was absolutely nothing funny about this fake email, Hannah must be an immature idiot. Despite your discomfort with reporting her, she should not be allowed to get away with such an unprofessional stunt. But before taking the matter to your boss, give her one last chance to do the right thing.
For example: “Hannah, the email which you sent from my computer was extremely inappropriate and could create a lot of problems for me. Unless you agree to send another email explaining what you did, I will have to ask our manager to handle this issue. It’s your choice, but you have to decide now.“
If your childish co-worker still refuses to cooperate, present the facts to your boss and ask him to either require a retraction from Hannah or send out an explanation himself. Should he also find this amusing, you will know that you are in a truly juvenile environment where you can probably expect more of the same.
Q: After receiving an organ transplant several months ago, my 34-year-old brother has now been cleared to return to work. “Joe“ has been unemployed for five years because of his disability. He used to work in construction, but his doctors say this is no longer possible.
When talking with interviewers, Joe will have to explain his lengthy period of unemployment and his need for a career change. Should he openly discuss his disability or make up some other reason for being out of work so long?
A: Your brother has certainly had a tough time, so I’m glad to hear that he’s doing well. Because of his special circumstances, however, Joe should contact the Vocational Rehabilitation agency in your state as his first step towards re-entering the workforce.
Vocational Rehabilitation specializes in helping people with disabilities become employed, so they should be able to assist with both his career change and his job search. If Joe has been receiving Social Security disability payments, he may find that the rehabilitation agency already has his information on file.
As for your specific question, an applicant should never lie during a job interview. But Joe does need to talk with his rehabilitation counselor about the best way to present his story and address any concerns which employers may have.
Marie G. McIntyre is a workplace coach and the author of “Secrets to Winning at Office Politics.“ Send in questions and get free coaching tips at http://www.yourofficecoach.com, or follow her on Twitter officecoach.