Foreman Said I Had A Relationship With Coworker!

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about talk about sex between employees:

A foreman at my job has made a statement that I was having some type sexual relationship with another employee at the work place. He has no proof and is lying. What should I do?

Signed, Defamed

Dear Defamed:

What you do about this situation will depend upon what exactly was said, the context in which it was said, if it seems this is typical of your foreman and has happened before, the type of organization where you work and how far you want to go with your complaint. Some things to consider:

1. Consider the details of what happened to ensure you take the best approach. I assume you heard this from someone else. Is there a chance that person may not have been accurate in his or her reporting to you? Do you think your foreman is spreading this story all around or was it a passing comment to one person? (That’s still not good, but slightly different that way) What about the other person who was named in the statement? Could it be that he or she was the originator of the story? If so, there is more to deal with than the one issue. Do you feel you need to let the other employee know about this situation or will it create a much bigger concern if you get him or her involved? In an effort to stop a rumor it sometimes gets spread worse! Was the statement made in passing and not made seriously or was it part of a serious discussion? Admittedly it would be wrong to say it at all, but I can think of situations in which it could be said without any expectation that it would be believed. Still not right though! If it was a one-time, bad judgment comment, you might be able to just talk to the foreman about it and ask him not to do that again. If it has been a repeated problem or if the foreman is spreading a rumor, you need to ask (maybe demand)formally–and at a higher level–for it to be stopped.Once you know what you’re dealing with you’ll have a better idea of what to do next.

2. If this seems to be a matter needing serious attention, the quickest and most effective way to do it, if your company has an HR section, is to write a formal complaint and request an investigation. Say that you were shocked to hear from a coworker that your foreman made such a statement and you would like to have the matter investigated to determine exactly what was said and who your foreman has made similar statements to. If you have a larger company or business this would probably result in an internal investigation. If your foreman was spreading rumors that should stop him from doing it and he will likely be sanctioned as well.

3. If you don’t work in a large company you may want to write or talk directly to the manager above your foreman and ask him for help in stopping such a lie from being spread around.

4. If you work for a very small company and it appears your complaint would get very little attention, you might be limited to going to your foreman and asking about the situation. You could say you were hurt at the thought that he would do such a thing. At least you might be able to get him to stop his behavior.If you usually get along OK with him, he may apologize and never do it again. If not, at least you will have a record of talking to him about it.

5. I hope the coworker who reported this to you told the foreman how wrong it was to make a statement that could end up being a hurtful rumor. You will need to give his or her name to HR or others you talk to about this, so they will have someone to interview about it.

6. The only other option is to say nothing and figure your good reputation will not be harmed by one outrageous thing said by your supervisor. I don’t think that is a very good solution because your foreman needs to stop saying such a thing about you or anyone else. So, he needs to know that you know about it and will do more, if he continues. Of course, you can get an attorney and see if there is something more you can do legally. But, that may be an expensive process for not much effectiveness, especially if it was a one-time situation.Unless this is going on all the time and you feel the company knows about it and encourages it, your best approach will be to do one of the first suggestions.Best wishes with this situation. If you have the time and wish to do so, let us know 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.