Fired For Complaining That Boss Borrowed Money

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about being fired for complaining
that a boss borrowed money but did not pay it back. 

“My boss borrowed money from me and wouldn’t pay me back and now I have been fired for complaining! What can I do?”


My supervisor was borrowing money from me and not paying me back. I went to HR to tell them what was going on. I was suffering financially and also suffering emotionally at home and at work, and I was being mistreated at work because I asked to be paid back. So, needless to say I was more stressed than ever!

Not only that, a couple of weeks prior I caught my supervisor telling the owner of the company how I should not be considered for a promotion when I totally deserved it, even though they were both agreeing to not promote me. I couldn’t take it anymore and went to HR.

When I told the HR person her eyes widened because I’m sure as HR she knew that a supervisor asking to borrow money from a subordinate was unacceptable. So, she wanted to immediately call a meeting,I said that would be fine and was told to go for a walk because I was really upset and crying.

She first went to talk to the owner of my company about the problem and now I know that she also told him about the conversation about my promotion that I had overheard(which was fine). I went back to my desk and wasn’t told anything. One day goes by, no meeting, one week goes by without a meeting. All this while the tension and office environment had gotten a lot worse. By then my boss and his wife (who works with us) were treating me differently as well.

Finally, it was at the point where I couldn’t even function at work, so, I went back to the HR office to ask her what happened to the meeting. To my shock she told me that she was given direct orders from the owner not to get involved. She told me that I was to go talk directly to either my supervisor, who is the person who borrowed the money, and the owner, who was the person who basically was part of that conversation where they unjustly excluded me from a promotion, even though I have been there the longest.

I told HR that my conversation with her the week before ended up only being a therapy session, since she couldn’t do anything. All she did was shrug her shoulders and say sorry. She told me that the owner said I had to go to my supervisor or to him. The owner basically found himself in the middle of two issues: 1. My supervisor borrowed money, and it turns out she had already been warned in the past not to ever do it. 2. The conversation I overheard about not promoting me.

The owner basically chopped me off at the knees by shutting me off from HR. How was I supposed to go to my supervisor and complain to her about something involving her? Same with the owner. How was I supposed to go to him and confront him about what I heard?

So, they fired me, citing personality conflicts with my supervisor. I was fired for complaining! We never had any conflicts until she borrowed money. We used to have a wonderful relationship until she borrowed money and refused to pay. The owner is known as having a history of protecting the supervisors no matter how wrong they are and now it’s happened again. I was unjustly fired and my personnel file has NOTHING that supports their actions. WHAT CAN I DO?




Dear Betrayed:

I’m very sorry to say that I don’t think there is anything you can do to change the actions of the owner, if he is the one who directed that you be fired for complaining about your boss borrowing money and not paying it back–and about the missed promotion.

It would be different if you had trouble with your supervisor, went to HR and someone at a lower level asked for your dismissal. You would than have someone to appeal to. But the owner of the company can hire and fire at will as long as no laws are violated If you think there is someone in the organization that can override his decision, you should contact that person. If you think there might be some state regulations about requirements for dismissal you should talk to the Department of Labor in your state.You might even want to consider contacting an attorney, at least for a consultation, which you usually can get for no charge, to see if you have some basis for legal action.

It sounds to me as though there are far too many things going on, both on the surface and behind the scenes, for distant, Internet assistance, as we are.I can understand your shock and fear about losing your job. But, surely you do not want to work there anyway! You have provided plenty of evidence to indicate that you don’t trust your supervisor or the owner or the owner’s wife or HR. So, it would seem there is no future for you in that place.

Clearly the supervisor has ethical and moral issues if she borrows money, pressures you for more, than gets you fired. It would seem to me you are far better off far away from there!I hope you have the records of transfers from your bank account to hers,if you wrote her a check, so you can at least take her to small claims court if you do not get your money back. You may want to consider writing your former supervisor a letter, with a copy to the owner, in which you include a copy of the financial transactions and ask to be repaid.

The bottom line is that this appears to be a very, very confusing situation with many players and many elements. Your business is apparently small enough that the owner is directly involved daily. There appears to not be any law violations involved with your dismissal, so you probably will not be able to appeal it to anyone higher than the owner. It seems you have no alternative except to find a better job with far better employers. You certainly are not out anything if you look for someone there where you live to talk to about it, on the chance someone with a fuller knowledge of the situation can advise you better.

I’m very, very sorry about this and wish you the best. If you have the time and wish to do so, please keep us informed about what happens.

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.