Boss/Agent Having Affair

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about an affair:

I knew within a week of working for this agent that he was having an affair/sexual relationship with a co-worker. It has gotten to the point where she calls him pet names and touches him inappropriately in front of other co-workers and he does nothing about it. I, we, feel like there is obviously inappropriate relationship going on as well as favoritism with this co-worker. If we acted this way, we would have been fired months ago.

Signed, Can’t Help Seeing

Dear Can’t Help Seeing:

By sending us this question, you appear to be asking three questions: Does seeing a flirting/foreplay in the workplace damage the service/product your workplace is delivering? Might a sexual affair between a superior and a co-worker/customer disfavor others of you who work with this agent/boss? And what should you do? Foreplay? Might lovemaking in the workplace interfere with whatever is your mission? Of course it might result in play instead of work or on the other hand it might result in competition to deliver more and better service/products.

You label what you have observed as an affair. That word implies that you know one or the other is betraying a companion. And it is probable if that is the case that a betrayal can escalate to a charge of sexual harassment should the affair go sour. Or if the betrayal escalates or perhaps blooms is a better word to a genuine new love relationship and termination of another, the fact is that that happens. The risks of an affair at work, however, are big.

Favoritism? Yes, this can and does occur either consciously or unconsciously. Or at least a boss-bossed affair is perceived as playing favorite. What to do? There is no clear answer. You tell us that you are a new employee. You don’t describe your workplace; its size, purpose, and organizational structure. You do suggest that you are not alone in seeing that an affair is easily ongoing. Therefore, there apparently is gossip and more than one of you wonder if favoritism will follow the agent/co-worker foreplay. You have some options:
· To ignore it unless favoritism is evident,
· To by-pass this agent to report it to his/her superior or to a personnel or Human Resource officer
· To confront the agent anonymously in writing or yourself and/or with a committee face-to-face.

Weight the consequences of these options in light of your workplace and what you would do if you were the owner of this place. Bear in mind that the goal of your job and workplace is to serve your internal and external customers. Bear in mind that if that goal is harmed that all of you employed there can suffer. Bear in mind how you would like to be treated if you were the one having what appears to be an affair. Bear in mind that what you see is not the whole story and it not as wise to make an accusation as it is to ask for an investigation. Bear in mind that gossip is not helpful.Weighing the consequences should help you do more that worry about what is going on. If there are others concerned as are you, together determine what is the best course of action. Don’t obsess about it. Don’t interfere if you are not sure serious harm is afoot and of what to do.

Your main job is to do what you were hired to do, not to track affairs. Think and work to that end. Working together with skilled hands, clear head and a caring heart is not always easy when things don’t seem above board. Courage might be required to address that, but if you are WEGO-minded, righting wrong is possible.

William Gorden