Can My Husband Be Fired for Having An Affair at Work (And Should I Tell?)

A question to the Workplace Doctors about reporting a husband
who is having an affair at work. 

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Question: My husband is the president of a company and has recently started an affair with one of his direct report managers. He is denying it but I have evidence- it’s been going on 7 weeks.

He has managed to negotiate a $12K pay rise for her literally 2 weeks after they first slept together. This was backed up all the way by my husband- even going over the head of the HR manager to get them to offer his mistress more money. I am really thinking of contacting HR and my husband’s bosses (who own the company) to tell them what’s going on. I think it’s bad enough having a relationship like this but adding in the salary increase is dishonest. He might get a pay out or he might not…but I want him to lose his job as I feel it’s the only chance we have of saving our marriage of 14 years and our family of 3 young sons.

He only sees her when he visits the U.S. on business but he does this every month- we lived there for 5 years as a family but I came back 16 months ago to get the boys settled in UK schools- he stayed on to ‘transition’ back, a process which was supposed to only take 6 months took 16! He came to live back here just before Christmas.

Answer: Hello and thank you for sharing your concerns with us about your husband having an affair at work. I can understand your feelings of hurt and betrayal. I can also understand your indignation over your husband’s actions regarding the pay increase for someone with whom he is having a relationship and the time he has taken from his family, to stay near her. It must be a tremendously difficult situation for you, in every way.

I don’t know what the actions of your husband’s company might be–a large part of that would depend upon how valuable he is to the company. But, he might very well be forced out, if the truth comes out that he got a raise for someone based on that relationship.

I urge you to talk to an attorney and a counselor before you take any action that could harm your husband’s job and the job of the other woman.  You could be held liable for the loss of her job or your husband could be sued for coercing her—both of which would have a devastating effect on your family’s finances.  It certainly will not make your marriage stronger for you to ruin your husband’s career and the career of someone else, who he may have a protective feeling about. Further, there is no way to keep that kind of action a secret from your family, including your children, and it may make you sound vindictive, rather than concerned about the man you love and about your family.

Another thing to keep in mind is that even though you say you have evidence that your husband is having an affair at work, your husband may have a way to explain it so that he and the manager seem innocent of your allegations. They may BE innocent—although it seems that your husband is using poor judgment about how he deals with a subordinate manager.

A good way to consider this is to consider what you want out of it. Do you mostly want to harm your husband and the other woman economically to teach them that you will not tolerate your husband having an affair at work? Do you want to shame your husband in front of his friends and coworkers, so they know the real him? Or, do you want to reconcile with your husband, keep your family together and not have your children suffer harm economically and emotionally? That third goal requires completely different actions than the first two goals.

Another way to consider it is to look around your home and think about the activities in which your children are involved and the lifestyle you lead. How will that work on half the amount of money you now have? How will that work if you are a single parent and their father is living with someone else? (And nothing throws two people together like the feeling that it’s them against the world.) Or, how will that work if your husband has to pay less support to you than he would have otherwise, because he is unemployed?

A third way to consider it is to think about how your family and friends will react when they discover that rather than talking to your husband and seeking assistance about your marriage, you reported him to his boss and got him fired.

I hope I have said enough to get you to thinking about what you really want and what you think reporting your husband to his boss will achieve. However, I can understand that it doesn’t seem fair for the other woman to have a job, an immediate pay raise she doesn’t deserve and a relationship with her boss that will ultimately insulate her from any problems. So, I can easily see why you would want some justice.

Do you think it would be effective to tell your husband that you know he is having an affair at work, tell him how you know, and remind him of how he could harm his career if the truth came out? It wouldn’t be good to threaten him about it, but maybe he doesn’t realize that if you know, others might find out as well.

The bottom line is that, as an outsider,  I’m not part of your situation and don’t know all the details. You could, however, share them with an attorney and a counselor and get legal and emotional support.  I hope you will do that, so you can be sure of your actions and the possible long-term effects.

Best wishes to you with this. I’m sorry you’re having to go through it.  I hope you will keep strong and steady as you find the solutions that are best for you, your children, your family and your future.

Tina Rowe
Ask the Workplace Doctors