How to Handle an Employee Whose Error Changes Another Employee's Life

By Lindsey Novak

December 3, 2015 4 min read

Q: I'm from India here on a work visa. I already have a bachelor's degree and a master's degree, and work at a large company as an IT specialist with a background in electrical engineering. We have an immigration coordinator at work that keeps track of everyone's visas and requirements, and all documents regarding each employee's legal status.

I was very interested in another position at the company, and it sounded like something I could do well. I checked with the immigration coordinator, an American, to see if I could apply for it and keep my current work status if I got the job. She assured me it would be fine and that I should apply. I interviewed, got the job and transferred to a different department.

I then received a notice from immigration that my transferring jobs changed my work status, placing me at the same level of someone who has just come over to the U.S. Being at the same company didn't matter. I had been in the process of applying to become a citizen, and changing my status not only changed my work visa but allowed immigration to deny my becoming a citizen. Now I can't stay more than six months if I don't go to school while working. This woman's mistake cost me my work status and totally altered my future security. If I want to stay and work in the U.S., I must now go into another master's program.

I value education, but I am angrier than I can describe and her incompetency. If I were impolite, I would have more than just a few choice words to say to her — words that we do not use in my country but that I often hear here. I immediately applied and got accepted into a second master's program in a different specialty — one that will make me even more valuable as an employee, but I don't want this woman to make any more mistakes like this on other employees. I have not run into her at work yet since all of this has happened. How should I handle this?

A: You have every right to be furious at such a critical error. This woman's ill-fated advice has altered your future and your lifestyle, and she should experience the consequences. Such jobs have no room for incompetence or negligence. You owe it to the company to report her error to her boss. The purpose of her position is to keep current on all visa statuses to assure the workflow continues. She should know the immigration requirements and conditions without question and should be checking in on the company's employees when updates or changes are made. Reporting her error to upper management is not vengeful or vindictive or malicious; it is something you should do as a matter of duty to the company.

Once you report her mistake and its repercussions, your responsibility is done. It's then up to management to decide her future at the company. Since her performance affects lives, the saying "everyone makes mistakes" does not apply here. Management may choose to hire a top immigration lawyer to correct the error, even if there is only a slight possibility of correcting it.

Meanwhile, start your new master's program. You will certainly be busier than you had planned, but if attending school while working is your only option for staying in the U.S., and you want to stay, you will have to find a way to do it. Your company may also grant accommodations on your work hours since its employee was the one who, to put it mildly, screwed up.

Email your questions to workplace expert Lindsey Novak at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @TheLindseyNovak. To find out more about Lindsey Novak and to read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at

Photo credit: Evan Bench

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