Lighter Side: prosecutor unleashes epic email feud over office canines

by Samantha Woodhill17 Jul 2015
A vicious and public email battle exploded in the U.S Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia, when employees were asked to leave their pooches at home.

“All, 

I have become aware that we have some employees who have continued to bring their pets to work in the Alexandria office.  There seems to be an increase during the weekend,” said the email to all staff, sent by the office’s director of administration.

“I would like to remind you that we have employees with pet allergies and as such no pets (other than service animals) are permitted in the workplace policy.  

“Additionally when there are accidents, this is additional work for the admin staff and cost to the District to have areas cleaned.  Please see the attached email from Dana (February 12, 2014) regarding this issue.”

One assistant U.S. attorney took an aggressive approach in expressing his detest for the ‘no pooch in the office’ policy.

“I’m here working on the weekend, both day; same as last weekend (the 4th of July weekend) – and your observation is that I have brought my dog to work?!!!,” he replied in a disgruntled email to all staff.

“You know what?  You’re right – neither one of us should have been here, me or my dog.  I’ll be sure to follow your advice in the future.”

Yikes!

But according to Above the Law, the director of administration didn’t let the sassy reply slide.

“Thank you for understanding and being thoughtful of my role to ensure the health, safety and welfare of the District employees,” she responded in another office wide email.

“During my three and a half years here, I’ve had to endure watching the First Responders and paramedic assist members of the staff during medical emergencies.  On at least two occasions in the past two years, two of my admin employees were taken by ambulance to the emergency room,” she ranted.

“I find it to be a very [reasonable] thing to ask this of staff, not to mention it violates the CFR.  I find your email offensive and insensitive, not to mention that it again ignores my frequent requests NOT to send emails of this sort to the entire staff.”

It continued.

“Finally, there are many of us (both support and AUSAs) who frequently work late evenings and weekends to accomplish our jobs.  So by all means let’s be professional and keep this in perspective,” the email went on.

“To the staff: my apologies for this email. I will not respond to any other responses regarding this subject. If you have any issues with this request, please direct them to the MAUSA or U.S. Attorney.”

Seems like a slightly drastic escalation. 

The unrelenting assistant U.S. attorney then sent the pinnacle of all catty office memos.

“If you had any sensitivity to the history and culture of this great institution that is the EDVA, you would know that this building was named for a great man who brought his dog to work in this very building,” the email said, again ignoring the administrator’s request to refrain from cc’ing all staff.

“His picture – with his dog – hangs in our lobby. Our long-time excellent first assistant Ken Melson frequently brought his dog to the office, as did a number of our other fine past leaders.

“It saddens me that much has changed since your coming, although I do not mean to suggest that you are responsible for it, any more than you meant to suggest that someone was taken away by ambulance because of an alleged pet allergy.

“And on the subject of useless office-wide emails,” the retort continued. 

“I do not need to know where you will be every moment of the day. I do not receive hourly email updates on the whereabouts of our U.S attorney, our criminal chief, my national security chief, or even my wife. I do not need them from you – and I doubt many of us do.”

Ouch!

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