Fired by Boss Having an Affair

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about being fired by a friend’s boss having an affair:

I was fired from Microsoft in 2004. (writing anonymously for now)

I knew it was going to happen the minute my best friend’s husband became my new supervisor. 20k employees, and he ends up being my boss. My friend and I met at our daughters’ daycare not at work! What were the odds.

He was having an affair with a woman down the hall from us. I figured it out at the Holiday Party, 2003, that was hosted at the Seahawk Stadium. I confirmed it with my friend, who had not told me yet. She had herself only just learned of it.They also had a disabled son that if in a certain temporary medication, could not go to regular daycare due to his needs, and on occasion I had the son in my office as his mother worked at a desk as an administrator, no private office. By this time, the husband had moved in with the other woman. He had nothing to do with his son, as he was high level disability, tube feedings, diaper care, etc, and this probably made him look bad to have ME his staff, babysitting his son in my office, (which was permitted in the past with other supervisors) , when he had his own office that he could have watched him.

I even put much of my stuff in a box for the “perp” walk out the building upon firing that happens, brought most of my other personalized items home in the weeks before.

The classic process to make it look “legal” to fire someone is nearly a formula I was told of actually a couple years before by someone who experienced it themselves. It is to give someone a poor review, put them in a probation status, set unreasonable goals to reach, then say “see you did not reach them, so you are fired. ”

The thing is I DID reach the goals as my required “mentor” who reviewed my work for these goals said I had attained them. They were stunned at my termination, but kept silent as being a woman, she risked repercussions, too. And of course, her evaluation was not put in my review.

Prior to this situation, I had gotten excellent reviews, even coveting the impossible 4.0. on my previous team.

The only reason I never spoke up? For the sake of my friend, because the only reason her son got decent healthcare and treatment, was due to Microsoft’s excellent healthcare plan that was obtained through the cheating husband’s (my boss) employment there.

Well now 2018, this child finally passed away at 17 years old. I no longer have to worry about speaking up, though it may be too late.

Microsoft is notorious for the “good ol’ boys’ club” where they controlled the stack ranking meetings, and gave each other promotions and raises, leaving many women on my team falling behind financially and in career advancement. I learned this from several after leaving Microsoft, as then they felt safe to talk.

What I want to know is would I have had any recourse? The affair was easily proven, he lived with her for almost 5 years. She was married too, so her own husband knew of the affair.

Signed–Never Spoke Up

Dear Never Spoke Up:

You ask if you would have any recourse for what you believe was an unjust firing 14 years ago? Thank you for taking time to describe the circumstances that preceded your firing and what has occurred since: your best friend’s husband becoming your boss, that husband having an affair with a mother with a disabled child who benefited from special healthcare due to the husband’s intervention, your good record of achievement despite assignment of unreasonable goals, your choice not to speak up at the time of your firing because you thought reporting on that husband’s affair would risk cutting off care for the disabled child, and now years later after the child died, you wonder if reporting the affair could make a wrong right.

I hope this synopsis of what you have lived with across the years fairly represents the details you have described. I’m sure the ruminations of what happened have repeatedly circled about in your head as you have wondered if you should have spoken up. I think you know the answer to your question: “What I want to know is would I have had any recourse?”

Microsoft Human Resources most probably would have dismissed blaming your firing to linking it to a an affair of your best friend’s husband if you had reported that at the time of your discharge. And now after more than a decade, I doubt that they would give you a fair hearing. Should my distant opinion be wrong, might you nevertheless want to do something? You could talk with or write HR to learn if they see any recourse?  You could consult an attorney who handles labor issues? You could vent your frustration on the social media; with the thought that your story might help others to weigh the kind of ethical and practical decision you had to make. Or perhaps requesting a long overdue exit interview might help Microsoft understand the complex ethical and practical matters sometimes associated with firing employees.

I expect that this whole matter has taken a toll on your peace of mind, and although you don’t mention it, probably it has made providing for yourself and family difficult. Allowing the past to be past is not like freeing your head by a walk in the park. Hopefully you have make peace with what you chose to do. Hopefully you have found ways to express your empathy with others in your community, never mentioning what you did.

Please know that I have not taken your question lightly, and that I wish in the coming days you will not regret taking the time to submit your question. If you think I have not understood clearly, please feel free to make that known. Our trove of thousands of Q&As are intended to provide first-person accounts of what has and can happen in the world of work. We know that working together with hands, head and heart takes and makes big WEGOS, and what you have shared can forewarn and forearm others who will see it.       –William Gorden