Fired Because Of Personal Texts

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about suspended for sex texts:

I was recently suspended from work as a colleague I was managing and with whom I had a minor sexual relationship with showed the director all of the personal texts I sent to her. They included some of a sexual nature which were welcomed from my colleague when I sent them to her and she replied to them without an issue. Also the director read all other personal private texts about my life and my past. Is this legal and if not what steps should I take? I sent all of the texts from my personal mobile phone and as far as I know the female colleague has not been suspended. I have been informed that if I do not resign I will be dismissed.

Signed, Pushed Out

Dear Pushed Out:

You may want to consult an attorney about the legal aspects of your dismissal. But, from what you have said, your director or others reading the text messages, did nothing illegal because they were shown them by the recipient. You are the manager, so you are viewed as the one who had the authority to coerce an employee into a relationship. From that perspective, you are the one in the wrong, not the employee. In fact, she has pretty much absolved herself by taking your text messages (including her responses) to the director.

Keep this in mind; you may think your relationship was welcome and that your messages were welcome, but maybe they weren’t. We hear regularly from employees who don’t know how to respond to overtures by their bosses. So, they tolerate the actions and even get involved a bit, because they don’t know what else to do. Some of that may be false on their part but I know that not all of it is. However, even if there was no coercion, most employers have policies against managers becoming involved intimately with their subordinate employees or having conversations of an intimate nature. So, no matter what the circumstances I don’t believe there is any way for you to avoid the repercussions. You can probably be let go for any reason, so you certainly could be in this case. By letting you resign they are extending you the opportunity to not have a dismissal showing in your work history. Best wishes to you with all of this.

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina had a thirty-three year career in law enforcement, serving with the Denver Police Department from 1969-1994 and was the Presidential United States Marshal for Colorado from 1994-2002. She provides training to law enforcement organizations and private sector groups and does conference presentations related to leadership, workplace communications and customized topics. Her style is inspirational with humor.