Wow! This conversation is overwhelming! I read through everything but am not great at quoting multiple posters, so I will be paraphrasing. I also tried to skim quickly through the parts of the conversations where it seems posters are arguing about what they posted and what they meant. I hope that because I skimmed those posts that I didn't miss anything too important to the original question of "Is this fair."
IrishKitty, you asked if Sarah's request was fair, if your granting her request was fair and if Alice and Megan were acting fairly.
I'll start with you. You said that you are not management but are on the same level as your co-workers. So somehow you ended up being in charge of a rotor for them and THAT is unfair to you. Look at what you have to go through now! This is a job for a supervisor or manager, that's why they get paid more. So ask for a raise, with a title. That way you will get the respect (hopefully) you deserve for putting up with the task of babysitting.
Is it fair for Megan to say something to the effect of "Sarah gets her way again!". Unfortunately, because Megan and Irishkitty are on the same level at work, it is not COMPLETELY unprofessional to make a comment like that. If Irishkitty were supervisor, it would not fly. But it pushes past the norm of human nature to bar any comments about unjust situations to your peers. One should make it a habit to not mention co-workers in a negative way, but we're only human. However, making a comment like that to a manager or supervisor would be unprofessional because the comment becomes an accusation that must be taken seriously.
Unprofessional, kind of. Unfair? Totally! Poor Irishkitty is having to hear complaints about the rotor she shouldn't be stuck with anyway!
Although, I bet I would't be able to resist saying something like, "you know she did this on purpose". If I knew Irishkitty to be aware of Sarah's standard behaviour.
Is Sarah being fair? No. She volunteered to do extra shifts and turned down the offer for a return on that favour. Then when it suited her she went straight to the person in charge of scheduling. A normal person would have went to the people for whom she did favours and said "You know what? I changed my mind. Would you covering my shift on this day be convenient?" But Sarah isn't normal. She's a narcissist. Clinically.
And that's the end of the "fair" Question. Irish kitty, for further info on working with people with narcissistic personality disorder, read on. For those of you who don't believe in it and sympathize with Sarah. Just stop reading here.
Now for Sarah. Poor, poor Sarah. All she wants is to be loved! By everyone!! Always!! She is so misunderstood!! She is so hard done by!! She is forced by her co-workers to do their work for them and then burned at the stake when she needs time to do her own work!! They are all against her!! If only her dear, sweet mother had taught her to say no! If only people understood how hard she works and how much she does for them!! If only they understood the suffering and the pain!!
This is why Irishkitty is so torn. I will assume it is best practice to believe the OP when she says someone is a narcissist and a liar. Because if we are going to respond to the post by saying, Irishkitty, you don't know what you're talking about. Why should we answer the question of fairness in the first place? How can we respond if we just assume the person who posted called someone else a narcissist and a liar because she herself is one. The only way Irishkitty would mistakenly accuse her co-worker of narcissism and lying is if Irishkitty herself was guilty of both. Irish kitty herself would have written the above paragraph.
Narcissistic personality disorder is almost always accompanied by compulsive lying. I know no one wants a psychology lesson, but this is a serious and harsh mental illness and these people often create a very toxic environment in the work place. The only thing that surprises me with Irishkitty's post is that Sarah is not liked by everyone but one person in the office. Usually the narcissist goes out of her way to make sure everyone loves them, they do favours, they gush and say wonderful things about people (to their faces), they trip over themselves being helpful and they do this for everyone. They agree with all your views, 20 minutes later they are agreeing with another co-workers views which are the opposite. They get everyone to not just like them, but adore them. They are the centre of attention. They are the office hero! They are the bosses favourite! No one is as kind and generous as they!
And when they lie, it's as if their words sparkle and drift like lovely clouds in the air. They look at their own lies and think, what wonderful words I have just produced! They are so true!! So true!!
But then the toxic behaviour begins, although once co-workers begin to recognize it, the narcissist usually moves on to another job. But there are less functional people with this personality disorder and they are often train wrecks. They start coming in late, they don't get their work done, they cry that they are overloaded getting others to do things for them (Tom Sayer was totally a sociopath!) They talk about how much work they've done, they talk about how they never get a break or how they just don't have enough time to do all that they do.
Typically the narcissist doesn't even hit the 50% mark of completing the work they say they are completing. But they are hard to catch in this lie and if you work with them, you have to sit there and listen to the praise they've gotten for the work you yourself completed. Although, the narcissist, usually a very successfully manipulative person, would doctor this so it doesn't happen in front of you. And you can't say anything to anyone about the narcissist because she has nothing but wonderful things to say about you!
They can cry at the drop of a hat. They will tell you a completely unnecessary and totally believable lie, and they know it to be the truth, so you believe them, over and over again. And compulsive liars are hard to deal with because they truly believe their own lies and think YOU are the crazy one when you call them on it. When you begin to suspect they are lying, and you mention this to a co-worker, you are just being a whiney immature person. If you say they are taking credit for more than they have done, you are jealous! How dare anyone not like Sarah?
There have been work situations, where every co-worker has found the narcissist out, but they don't know that the other knows because saying something is risky. One only finds out when the narcissist is gone and the company takes a collective sigh of relief.
The narcissist at work is so impossible because their behaviour when voiced sounds nothing more than petty. But it is passive aggressiveness in the extreme and it's usually all day and everyday. And the kicker is, even if the behaviour is recognized, how can it be addressed? It is a legitimate mental health issue. Sarah may have created a delusional world for her liking, but when it falls apart, and it will, run far far away! And thank whoever you can think of that it is not you that has this horrible disorder.
Sarah is a martyr. I know this because the OP said so. Sarah probably always gets her way. Sarah creates an unfair working system in which she always wins. Her co-workers understandably are frustrated by this.
There is only one thing to do, which it seems is already happening. Everyone must remain polite. Everyone must take responsibility for their own work. Irish kitty must not feel guilty for the way Sarah manipulates her or others. Do not create cliques at work. Work, then go home and enjoy building your life with the benefits of that 8 hour day. Take yoga. Surround yourself with positive people. If the narcissist has gotten under your skin, do a quick cleansing ritual and be happy you're not the one that is so screwed up. (Do this before having a drink, if drinking is your thing).
We have to work with people with all sorts of disorders from migraines to bi-polar and it's difficult and stressful, absolutely. But it will never be fair so don't set yourself up to fail by trying to make it so. And if that person is making your work life unbearable, I personally think it is totally worth it to find another job. Some say that's not fair. Fair? no. Worth looking forward to work everyday? Absolutely!
And always remember, you and your co-workers are not being petty and childish, she really has this disorder, she really is manipulative. But don't tell just anyone, you won't be believed. For anyone interested, a great book to read, even for entertainment is "Understanding the Borderline Mother" by Christine Ann Lawson. It explores different personality disorders and also, why people around you don't believe you when you spot it in someone else.