Coworkers won’t—and don’t—always like each other on a personal level. Their only connection is a job, so they may be completely incompatible otherwise.
And that’s fine.
Coworkers don’t need to be friends to be effective at their jobs. They just need to maintain professional behavior.
But sometimes the workplace demands a level of goodwill an employee doesn’t feel. Should they bow down to peer pressure and provide an insincere gesture or maintain their personal integrity?
A worker found themselves facing such an issue over a coworker they dislike. After pushback from their peers, they turned to the “Am I The A**hole” (AITA) subReddit for feedback.
“AITA for refusing to sign a ‘Get Well Soon’ card for a coworker that tried to get me fired?”
The original poster (OP) explained:
“Last year I had a coworker actively participate in an investigation to get me fired at work. All allegations were false and fabricated and I am still employed, thank God.”
“However, this ordeal cost me tens of thousands of dollars (I’m in sales) and months of incredible stress at work and at home.”
“A few months after everything settled down, said coworker was diagnosed with cancer. He’s a POS, in my opinion, but I wouldn’t wish cancer on my worst enemy.”
“Fast forward to last week.”
“A different coworker sends out a group message to all of our other coworkers stating he’s bought a card for everyone to sign and asked everyone to donate $20 to help out.”
“Today, after being asked why I had not yet signed/donated, I told him I will not be signing the card nor donating. He was incredibly upset.”
The OP summed up their situation.
“I chose not to donate/sign because the person it would benefit was bad to me.”
“I am the only one at my work choosing to not donate/sign.”
Redditors weighed in by declaring:
- NTA – Not the A**hole
- YTA – You’re the A**hole
- NAH – No A**holes Here
- ESH – Everybody Sucks Here
Redditors decided the OP was not the a**hole (NTA).
“NTA. I don’t sign cards for people I don’t know, because it just seems hollow. Someone who tried to get me fired? Nah.” ~ chaingun_samurai
“NTA, tell the person collecting that you are hard up for money after what this person did to you and because of him you cannot afford to donate and as you have not donated you do not feel it proper to sign the card.”
“If he keeps harassing, you go to HR.” ~ Crazybutnotlazy1983
“Totally agree. NTA, and this is the most honest and diplomatic answer. I hope the coworker recovers, but OP doesn’t have to make nice after what they did.” ~ emergencycat17
“Exactly. I understand not wishing cancer upon your worst enemy but giving them 20 dollars after this whole ordeal is a bit of a stretch.” ~ Pollythepony1993
“NTA. This coworker has put you in a very stressful situation that has affected your mental health and your daily life. He has intentionally hurt you, and I don’t see why you would want to help him even if he is very ill.”
“Cancer is a terrible thing, but you don’t have to give money or sign the card just so you won’t be seen as an a**hole. Consider that your coworkers might judge you for your choice though.” ~ Waterslide33
“NTA – Even without the bad blood, no one should be expected under any circumstances to participate in any kind of gift to a coworker.”
“If it is important that this be done, it should be the company and not the employees who take the initiative.” ~ okIhaveANopinionHERE
Several noted being pressured in a workplace to donate money for any reason is an issue for human resources.
“NTA. Is the coworker with the card aware of the bad blood between you and the sick coworker?” ~ Physical_Ad5135
“Even if he’s not, it’s still inappropriate to hound or pester people for money at work like that. I’ve been in the workforce for a few decades and some of the people who do bridal/baby collections could teach master classes to extortionists.”
“It’s fine to say John or Jane is getting married or celebrating a new arrival. If you’d like to contribute to the the gift, please see Ann or Arnie in Accounting.”
“Not OK, includes going door to door, cube to cube, desk to desk asking people for money in front of others.”
“And telling sob stories about bad baby daddies and wedding financial fiascos to try to get more money. I experienced both of those ‘pitches’ to up contributions.” ~ exscapegoat
“I’d honestly skip explaining yourself to your coworkers. It will either create drama you probably don’t want, or make you seem petty against a cancer patient.”
“I’m not at all saying that coworker getting cancer retroactively absolves him of his actions, but people get real squirrelly about how cancer patients are treated after diagnosis and coming out publicly. It’s like speaking ill of the dead for some people.”
“Instead, I’d go to HR and inquire what the policy is about donations/money raising between coworkers. Express that you have been made uncomfortable about not participating and that you would really prefer not to have to justify your financial situation or decisions with your coworkers.”
“Ask if the policy is meant to either be entirely opt in with no comment for or against an individual’s decision, or that there be a way for it to be anonymous. If the policy is not either of these two options or if they do not have one, ask why this isn’t the case.”
“I’ve helped run these kinds of money raising before. My move was always to announce the collection’s purpose, who it was for, and who my team could approach to give if they desired (usually my fellow assistant service managers and store management).”
“Guilting, pressuring, and gossiping over who gave what was not tolerated, but the way it often ended up going was team members approaching us quietly or privately to give if they so chose and no comment was ever made on the amount.”
“No tally was ever made on who gave and who didn’t, and the cash was all mixed together in a money pouch and stored in the store safe. We couldn’t tell you who gave what even if we wanted to. This system ran pretty well for all eleven years I worked there.”
“But yeah, HR will probably want to nip this on the bud. I know a lot of folks say that HR works for the company, and that’s true, but this kind of thing just creates needless and petty headaches for them that they’d rather avoid in my experience.” ~ BlueRaith
“Yep, we had to stop all of it at work because people were so damn obnoxious about it and kept score of who gave and who didn’t. It was just a whole lot of nastiness and negativity, so the OWNER of the company put an end to all of it.”
“The only people sad about it were the gossips who had one less thing to gossip about.” ~ Sniffy73
“It’s actually OK not to explain yourself. You can say, ‘Don’t bother me. I’m working’.”
“My job can get contentious. Really contentious. So quite some time ago, our policy for these things became ‘If you want to sign the card, it’s in the break room. If you want to donate, the box is also in the break room. It will be picked up at close of business on MM/DD’.”
“We have a pretty high cancer rate, so there is often a card and donation box in the break room. Yet somehow this does not intrude upon the work flow.”
“Your work should follow suit.” ~ Reeyowunsixsix
“I agree – you shouldn’t have to explain yourself because it’s nobody’s business and your colleague is an ah for pushing.” ~ FauveSxMcW
“NTA. People who collect donations/voluntary contributions etc at work need to understand the definition of ‘voluntary’.” ~ nim_opet
“To be fair I don’t do this for coworkers I like. I go there to earn money and 20 bucks is a couple hours work. I sadly can’t afford that. NTA” ~ ChickenPermi55ion
Others pointed out current personal misfortune doesn’t change the past.
“NTA. Having cancer does not erase the misery and wrongdoing by this co-worker. You’d be a hypocrite to contribute.” ~ Realistic_Head4279
“Having cancer doesn’t magically make someone a better person. NTA.” ~ thetrippingbillie
“Thank you! I have seen this before. Some really sh*tty horrible people live their lives like they don’t care and only they matter.”
“So suddenly when they get cancer we all drop to our knees weeping begging to help? No, you must deal with the consequences of your actions.” ~ NoMouthFilter
“NTA. You aren’t wishing him to die, but you don’t have to pretend to give a f’k about him either.” ~ crazymastiff
“NTA. If you’d signed the card with, say, a picture of a middle finger…or if you’d taken a $20 out when asked to put one in, then maybe you’d be the a**hole.”
“But even if you had no reason not to, if you could not do so with good conscience and all sincerity, there was no obligation for you to sign the card nor to donate.”
“And it sure sounds like you had abundant reason not to want to participate. Definitely NTA.” ~ Redditor
Donations and signing cards should be voluntary and not monitored in a workplace.
And “no” is a complete sentence.