Watched Boss’s Child On A Business Trip

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about being referred to as a baby sitter:

I am an Executive Assistant who recently went on a business trip with my boss who brought her child along on the trip. I agreed prior to going on the trip that I would watch her child as she went to the various conferences she needed to attend. It was a great trip for me, being I had never been to that specific city before. All my expenses were paid for by the company.

Upon returning from this week long trip, employees in the building (not affiliated with my company) began referring to me as the babysitter! When I confronted one of them on this and asked where did she hear this from, she gave me the name of a person in my company who said I went on a business trip with my boss to be the “Babysitter.” I was annoyed that this co-worker went around telling people from other companies about this trip and that I was the babysitter. I confronted this co-worker and let my boss know of the situation. Well, ever since I let my boss know of how I felt of my co-workers actions, I feel as if I am being punished. My boss has begun taking job responsibilities away from me, has acted very cold towards me and hardly speaks to me anymore. It has become very uncomfortable to me at work lately. I have approached my boss about how I feel, and she tells me it has nothing to do with my confronting my co-worker. So I am not sure how to handle things now. Any advice?

Signed, Worried

Dear Worried:

If you think YOU’RE concerned, think how your boss probably feels. You can bet she was not supposed to use you as a baby-sitter and have the company pay for it. She may very well be in trouble already, or is trying to avoid it. That may be why she is distancing herself from you.Actually, I would have thought both of you would have realized the unethical aspects of this kind of arrangement. I don’t wish to unnecessarily alarm you, but if nothing more happens than your current situation, you are probably both very fortunate. In most companies that would be a firing situation for everyone involved.

Your boss may have felt that you should have not confronted the co-worker, especially since what the co-worker was saying was the truth. But, keep in mind that someone had to leak the information, so there was a lack of discretion by your boss as well. That all adds to the problem. I think your best approach is to keep a low profile, focus on doing your assigned work very well, and let some time pass. When all of this fades from the spotlight of gossip you may very well find your work will return to its former level. If someone mentions the babysitting saga, just say it was greatly exaggerated and you’ve stopped trying to explain. It probably IS exaggerated in the telling, so that much is true. And there really IS no point in trying to explain.

It’s between your boss, you and upper management. And it appears, since this trip happened more than a few weeks ago, that upper management is not concerned enough to take action about it. This kind of situation is a reminder that workplace decisions can have long-term consequences and should not be made lightly–especially when it involves travel money, the children of bosses or employees, or performing personal tasks for a boss. Those are all fraught with problems! Best wishes as this calms down–and it inevitably will. In the meantime, be such a good employee that you will always be given the benefit of a doubt by those higher up. You can never go wrong with that reputation.

Tina Lewis Rowe