The problem: A co-worker lied to our boss and told him I had said something that I didn’t. If I had said it, I would have been overstepping my bounds into our boss’ territory. My boss didn’t ask me if I said it. He just chose to believe the co-worker and gave me a written reprimand (via e-mail) and told me to not do it again. I replied to the e-mail stating that I did not say this. He then called me and reiterated that I should not have said this nd was overstepping my bounds. I responded, again, that I did not say this. I am very frustrated. I didn’t want to accuse the co-worker of lying, but I feel that my boss doesn’t believe me. Should I have stood up for myself more?

Low road: A gift is in order: A copy of “Pinocchio,” left on your co-worker’s chair.

High road: You’re in a bind here. It sounds like it was your co-worker who overstepped their bounds and threw you under the bus. It also sounds like you have a boss who doesn’t have the bandwidth, time or desire to deal with what he likely sees as a small annoyance in a day of countless larger annoyances. But his preferential treatment was unfair to you.

While it’s hard to resolve he-said/she-said scenarios, a mature boss would have called you both into his office together and said that he’s not pointing fingers, but he does want to emphasize that the comment, whoever said it, was inappropriate, followed by a jolly, ”Now let’s all get back to work, shall we?” That would have put your co-worker on notice that the boss doesn’t play favorites.

But, in case he does, you were wise to keep this correspondence in writing. Let this go. But should you see a pattern developing, reach out to your HR department.


Send questions about life’s little quandaries to Read more of Gail’s “High Road” columns at