Equal Punishment For Equal Affairs?

Question:

A manager that works under me had an affair with my husband and I had a private affair with her husband. When she found out about her husband and me, I was fired, but she was able to keep her job. They said that I was not able to manage her effectively, even though I had been managing her the whole time since she had an affair with my husband. When she found out about her husband and me, she went to management and said she could not work there if I was there. Should they have treated us to equal punishment?

Signed,

Frustrated over Unfairness


Answer:

Dear Frustrated over Unfairness:

You were both managers and each of you should you have had better judgment. Apparently those above you thought because you ranked above her, you should have had better judgment than she, or they might have thought she was more valuable than you to your company. Foreplay was not written into your job description, nor was it part of hers. Outside of the workplace trading affairs might seem fair to you, but inside the workplace, they are not. Superiors should be responsible. They are vulnerable if an affair goes sour. The company can be sued for sexual harassment and/or discrimination if it hadn’t made a reasonable effort to prevent or correct that. The important thing now is what you are learning from this unfair pair of affairs. To be sure, we are animals and have animal instincts, but hopefully as adult animals, we have learned that maturity hinges on not betraying the responsibilities to which we commit ourselves. One’s performance at work is more than just doing a job. It is developing and maintaining relationships based on trust. This said is not meant to be a sermon.

Of course, you will live your life as you choose, and the solving the aftermath of your affairs probably has not been quickly fixed. Nor might it be a quick fix to take the next step on your career path. I hope you will not allow what is unfair to sour and obsess you. Replaying it again and again and gossiping with family and friends about how this is unfair can only hurt you and prevent you from moving on to find another job. I’m sure you don’t want to have these affairs to echo as you make the case that you were a good manager. So put this behind you. You might find additional suggestions for coping with unfair and troubling mistakes by scanning other Q&As in our Archives.

Do feel free to disagree. But not long from now, I would like for you to send us a note that you have found new work and are excited because it is meaningful step forward in your career. Working together with hands, head and heart takes and makes big WEGOS, and that’s what you want in your next workplace.

William Gorden