I am a receptionist at a successful company and the woman in the position above mine is bending our office rules and I don't know how to handle it. She's not my direct supervisor, but she's the one that gives me my breaks. Lately, she's been coming in late, and since I am the only one up front, I'm also the only one that sees her sneak in — she always asks me not to say anything. Recently my boss asked me directly if she was coming in late and, of course, I didn't lie.
Today she needed to leave early yet again and asked me to lie to our supervisor as to why — she said it was because of her son, but in reality she was having boyfriend problems. I don't want to get in trouble on her behalf and I feel like it's inevitable that our bosses are going to figure her out. It's a really close office with only six employees, and I don't want to get a reputation as a tattler, but I don't want to lose my job by helping her lie! What should I do?
— No More Lies Lydia
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Dear No More Lies Lydia,
I'm sorry to hear that your coworker is putting you in such a compromising position by asking you to lie on your behalf — obviously this is not a healthy or comfortable scenario to deal with day in and day out. Since it is such a small office, you're right to guess that your boss will find out about your coworkers sneaky behavior eventually, and it's important that your own values aren't questioned when she finally does.
When dealing with uncomfortable job-related problems, you must maintain your professionalism no matter how trying the situation may be. However, it's equally important to deal with matters before they get out of hand. Though certainly it is your boss's responsibility to make sure her employees are following company policy, I always find it better to approach the person in question directly, before escalating the issue all the way to the top.
Next time your coworker asks you to lie, let her know simply and directly that you will no longer be able to lie on her behalf. If she responds by continuing to abuse her power over you, make a log of it, and take it to your boss. When you talk to your boss, keep your emotions out of the conversation and instead focus on how her behavior wreaks havoc on your productivity and work day. Once your boss speaks with her, it's likely her behavior will improve, but don't expect her attitude towards you to change. Try to keep your chin up — you can't control her, only your reaction to her.