Why Firing the “Victim” Was the Right Thing To Do

Have you heard the phrase “open the kimono” in a business sense?

Yeah, me neither. But, apparently it was a thing. It shoudn’t be thing. It’s sexist, racist, and generally gross. And a redditor used it at work and all hell broke loose. Here’s the post:

Now, everyone is saying that OP is a horrible person and he got Sarah fired. They are wrong.

OP is definitely ridiculous and may be horrible, but Sarah brought this on herself. Here’s why.

Lying during an investigation is a no-no.

There was past friction between the OP and Sarah, and so when the OP brought the incident with Sarah’s scantily clad wife, they were right to follow up on it. If the same HR person who handled the “open the kimono” incident handled this, I suspect she thought the OP was exaggerating and was attempting to get back at Sarah. HR should go into every investgation neutrally, but let’s be honest–past experiences play a role.

If Sarah had responded, “yes, I’m sorry. My wife came into frame. She didn’t realize the camera was on,” that would have been the end of it. Sarah’s wife was only on camera for seconds, it had never happened before, and heaven knows things happen on Zoom.

But, instead, she responded that the OP was retaliating against her for the “open the kimono” incident where OP was forced to apologize. Her wife, Sarah says, was never inappropriately dressed on camera.

Now, at this point, the HR person absolutely steps up the investigation. This is a serious accusation. And, frankly, since OP admits to not getting along with the team, perhaps this is the the path to remove a problematic employee.

So, HR steps up the investigation. Retaliation is a serious problem, and they don’t want Sarah to be punished for reporting sexual harassment. However, in the course of their investigation, they uncovered texts that backed up OP’ story and showed Sarah’s plot to punish him.


End of job for Sarah.

Lying during an investigation is a serious thing. Framing a co-worker–even one you hate and who everyone hates–is a serious thing. No matter how righteous you may think your cause is–getting rid of a coworker who used an inappropriate phrase and doesn’t get along with anyone anyway–you can’t lie in an investigation.

If you read the OP’s post in a timeline fashion, it becomes a bit more clear as to why Sarah was fired.

  1. OP who doesn’t get along with coworkers uses the phrase “open the kimono”
  2. Sarah complains
  3. OP must apologize, per HR
  4. Later, Sarah’s wife appears in a zoom meeting for a few seconds, wearing a shirt and undies
  5. OP complains
  6. HR Investigates
  7. Sarah claims OP was retaliating for the kimono incident.
  8. HR discovered chats that indicate Sarah was framing OP
  9. Sarah is fired.
  10. Everyone hates OP.

I often tell people never lie to your lawyer, your priest, your doctor, or your therapist, but let’s add never lie to the HR person conducting an investigation. It may come back to bite you.

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7 thoughts on “Why Firing the “Victim” Was the Right Thing To Do

  1. OP was an a*s for reporting it. We’ve been living virtually for so long that we should all know that oops-es happen on digital platforms quite often. And I do believe he only reported it to stick it to her for reporting him for the kimono comment.

    But I agree Sarah was in the wrong. I think she was banking on everyone believing that because she was the victim once, she’s always the victim and he’s always the bad guy.
    Good on HR for reviewing all the evidence and making an evidence-based decision. Something we can all learn – if you’re going to plot revenge don’t put your master plan in writing!

  2. Hi Suzanne (uh, I mean Evil) —

    Either I’ve been locked in the house too long because of COVID, or you guys are already in your “long night” season and are suffering from a Vitamin D deficiency, or both. Because I have no clue what this article is about and am completely confused and unable to follow who’s who, who said what to who, and what the various actors did.

    Or maybe it’s just me.

    I do appreciate the synopsis at the end – definitely needed.

    PS — and there’s at least one person in the world (that would be me) who doesn’t know what “open your kimono” means 🙁

  3. Kimono phrase is from Microsoft when they were a young company in the 1980s. They would visit young software developers who wrote something interesting and ask them to demonstrate what they wrote. They would indicate that they were interested in partnering. The excited and naive developers would show them everything. Microsoft would then steal it and not follow through. Bill Gates father would help his son with any litigation. He also gave advice on how to make the software just different enough to avoid legal challenges. They called this ruse “Opening the Kimono.”

  4. I also had to Google to find out what AITA meant. Maybe I’m old, but I had never given a second thought to the phrase “open our kimono” – I’d heard it a lot at a tech company (NOT MS) I worked for during due diligence with various funding entities (Investors, etc.). For me it meant revealing all our secrets, technological and financial. Guess with the new, younger, woke folks in the workforce I’d better watch myself. In case I accidentally say something I had no clue was “upsetting”… I totally think Sarah overreacted to the utterance of that phrase. I also think the poster overreacted to her wife showing up in her undies for a few seconds. But Sarah had already created bad blood, so he felt justified to complain. The lying is what did her in though, as noted. If she’d told the truth she’d likely still have her job. My $0.02 worth.

    1. It was also common to say I yotallye raped you! In response to winning a video game. It doesn’t take a lot of effort to be “woke” n such to realize that ohrasenis problematic, even though it was wildly popular just 10 years ago.

      Would you say “let’s drop our trousers?” in place of “open our kimono” when what you are really going for is let’s be transparent? Probably not. Hence the issue with the phrase as othering with a rare mixture of racism and sexism combined.

  5. Dear Evil HR Lady,

    I think it would help if you spelled out some acronyms and explained some phrases. For example:

    “Open the kimono” means “divulging confidential information,” and given it’s implications, it’s a problem (my Japanese mother would hate the phrase).

    “AITA” is reddit speak for “Am I the A**hole?”

    “OP” is “Original Poster.”

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