Boss Had an Affair and I Got Suspended. Now What?

A question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about what to do about being suspended
after reporting a boss that was involved in an affair with a coworker. 

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Question:
My boss had been sleeping with a coworker for six months. The coworker thought she was like the boss because she was sleeping with him and began harassing coworkers and demeaning them. It was reported to me by a client that my boss was meeting the coworker at her home. I reported the matter to the company, but even though the client verified the visit, the coworker and boss denied it. Ten weeks later she quit and left town. My boss remains in place but gossip says he has been asked to retire early.

With a 30 year career under his belt and his wife working around the corner in the next office what is he thinking and what is the company thinking to not fire him? I informed the spouse when questioned and told her the truth, she was devastated.

I have been harassed and treated poorly by the company but not fired yet.  I have been suspended and took FMLA while under suspension.  I intend to return but I need to look at my options. This same boss exposed himself on two occasions. I reported that as well. What do you think my options are?

Answer:
It  may be that you need an attorney’s advice rather than ours. We’re not attorneys, we focus on workplace communication problems. However, based on what we have heard about such incidents in the past, it sounds as though your options are to either finish the suspension and go back to work, get an attorney and see if any EEO regulations were violated by your company, or quit working there. None of those are easy options, but to be on suspension is a severe matter, indicating you are close to being fired if you do something else for which corrective action is taken.

You don’t say why you are being suspended or if it relates to the issue about the boss and the coworker or your report about your allegations that he exposed himself to you.  We often remind people that their own behavior or performance will be viewed separately from anything else that is going on. So, the fact that your boss may be in trouble and you reported it, doesn’t mean you can’t get in trouble on your own for a behavior or performance issue.

As for the allegations of indecent exposure: If he showed his “private parts” to you purposely, without your permission, that is a criminal matter and you should have called the police. If you had done that, HR would have had to be involved in some way, because a management level person would be under investigation for a crime against an employee. It may still not be too late to make a criminal charge about the incident, especially if you immediately went to your employer about it at the time. Consider calling your city attorney or district attorney’s office and ask for assistance about knowing whether to call the police to report the event. They may tell you to call an officer and make a report or they may tell you the charge couldn’t be prosecuted.

You say you intend to go back to work. Unfortunately, it sounds as though things aren’t going well there and you are not viewed positively. If you sincerely believe you have done nothing to merit negative feelings, you may need to decide if you can stay in that environment. If you think there are some things you can change about your behavior or performance, those are issues you will need to work on if you want to hold onto your job and be successful.  Your own life and work is what you should focus on, whether or not you agree with the decisions made about the boss,. Don’t gossip and don’t listen to gossip and don’t get involved in judgments about someone else’s private life.  As the old adage goes: Be careful what you’re busy about: The honey bee is praised, but the mosquito is swatted.

I hope things improve at work for you and for others there. It may take a lot of effort on your part to make that happen, but if it’s important to you to keep that job, you will find a way. Best wishes to you. If you have the time and wish to do so, let us know what happens.

Tina Rowe
Ask the Workplace Doctors