Sometimes when things get hectic around the office, we order pizza. I'm the supervisor, so I often make the pick-up and bring pizzas back to my co-workers. Several weeks ago, I picked up an individual-sized pepperoni pizza for one worker who requested her own personal pie. I also picked up several large pizzas for the rest of us to share.
After eating the personal pizza, the worker became sick. But rather than blame it on food poisoning, she went to a higher-up and accused me of poisoning her pizza.
I did no such thing, but this particular worker and I have been having problems for a while. I'm white and she's African-American, and any time she feels slighted at work, she says I'm racist. I'm not a racist. Honestly, she's just kind of stupid, and as her supervisor, I rarely call on her to help with office tasks because I don't trust her not to mess everything up.
I'm not allowed to fire her. That has to come from someone above me. What can I do to bridge relations with this woman? And how can I convince her that I did not poison her pizza?
-- The Un-Wicked Witch
Sounds like some drama straight out of The Office, only not as funny.
As for the pizza, there's no way for you to prove you didn't poison her pizza. But the next time you buy the company pizza, steal a slice her from personal pizza and eat it right in front of her. Tell her you're just making certain she knows there's no arsenic in the sauce. Maybe humor will help.
Seriously though, you need to report this crazy lady to your boss. Even if you don't have the power to fire her, I'm sure your higher-ups would want to know that this kind inner-office strife is going on.
After she reported that you'd poisoned her pizza, did your bosses question you? If not, take that as a sign that they didn't take her claim seriously. They may not have grounds to fire her immediately, but if she's accusing her co-workers of poisoning her food, I'm sure it won't be the last time she causes problems. In the meantime, work on bridging relations with her by giving her more of a chance to show her stuff. Call on her to help sometimes. Maybe she really does feel slighted. Who knows? She may even start to like you if you offer her a chance to shine. And you might be surprised by her performance.
If she fails, the higher-ups will be more likely to let her go. In the end, you'll either wind up with an unexpected friend and a better employee or she'll be fired and you can move on to happier days at the office. Got a problem? Bianca can solve it ... or least give you crappy advice that you can choose to ignore. Send advice queries to firstname.lastname@example.org.