Loans in the Workplace
Alison Green | Ask A Manager
October 14, 2010
This is long but really outrageous. A reader writes:
I was fired from my job 3 months ago. The reason I was given was “due to personality conflicts with your supervisor,” which was shocking, considering that we were actually were pretty close in the office. I had been there longer then her and anyone else, and I never had any conflicts with anyone throughout the duration of my employment. To the contrary, I had wonderful relationships with every single person.
A couple of weeks before my termination, I did go to HR for some assistance because my supervisor began asking to borrow money from me in late 2009, and she continued to constantly ask through out 2010. She was pressuring me so much that it got to the point that I was so uncomfortable at work that I felt obligated to loan her the money.
The last time she borrowed money ($750), she agreed to pay it back by our next pay period because I told her that could only afford to loan it to her if I got it back by that specific date; she agreed. Well, that date came and she didn’t pay me back. A week went by and she didn’t mention anything. When I sent her a message asking her about the loan, she simply ignored it. At this point, not only was I in financial trouble because my bills were unpaid, but she began to be really hostile towards me. When I asked again that she at least pay me back half of the money, she said that she needed to check her account and she could probably give me $100. Well, after that reply there was NOTHING. No payback, no message or email, nothing.
So, since she was refusing to pay me back, I went to our HR person (hesitantly, because they were actually friends outside of work, but I had no choice). I told HR what was going on, and by the immediate reaction I knew there was something else going on, but she did not disclose anything, obviously. She did, however, want to help me and said that she was going to have to talk to the owner of the company about this, which I said would be fine. Two weeks go by and nothing, I then go to HR and ask what was going on, and she said that the owner told her not to get involved and at this point it is getting even more weird in the office. So, HR redirects me to the owner of our company.
A day or so later the owner calls me into his office and says that my supervisor was told to repay me immediately. Then he asks me about my work environment, so I tell him how she has been making me feel, etc. He then continues to say that he wants to resolved as I have been the longest employee there and she was wrong, etc. Then he shared that she had already been warned not to ask anyone in her “work -related” environment for money or loans. One week later, I finally get my money paid back and that Friday I also get fired.
After I was fired, I was contacted by the mail carrier who delivered our daily mail, who I’d known since I began working there. He said he was shocked to find out that I was no longer there, and when I told him the reason for my termination, he revealed that my supervisor had asked him to borrow $4,000 and that he reported it to our company.
I never had even one incident with anyone in my company, there are no disciplinary actions in my personnel file at all whatsoever, and throughout this time I remained cordial and respectful to my supervisor as I simply needed my money because I was suffering financially. So how do I explain this to a prospective employer? I guess I am still in shock and I can’t even come up with the words to articulate it.