Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about wife ‘s affair with husband’s boss:
My wife of 20 years, I found out recently, had a 15 month affair with my boss. When I went to him to discuss it, he denied the whole thing. He said that any emails I found were all fabricated by her and he doesn’t know what she felt she had to gain by making such accusations, as well as stating that he does not even find her attractive. Then he proceeded to tell me to go home and take some time that I obviously needed to work some things out with my wife and to return to work on Monday. (This was on Thursday.)
When I returned home, after a couple of hours, he emailed to ask how I was doing. I told him the truth that I was not okay and I did not believe his fabricated story. He then proceeded to email back in reply that fabricating an email was very easy to do. He suggested for me to look below his text to see just how easily it was done, making it appear as if I had written an email to him. It stated that I did not like my job and no longer wanted to work for the company I was working for.
One week later, after a brief investigation, I was told that it was a personal issue, and not work related after reporting a hostile work environment, due to the nature of the situation and the context of the email he sent. I was then terminated one day later for gross insubordination, for talking about it with other employees after it was discussed with me and told it was a personal issue and job abandonment when I was given two days off to take care of things. Would this be considered wrongful termination due to the sensitivity of the situation?
Signed, Done Wrong
Dear Done Wrong:
You are asking a legal as well as an ethical question. As you probably noted our site addresses workplace communication and doesn’t give legal advice. Therefore, since you think you’ve been “done wrong”, seek the advice of an attorney, one that that handles labor issues. Usually you can get a free hearing of a lawyer to learn if you have a case, and as with a medical diagnosis it is wise to get a second opinion.
From here, it is impossible to ascertain if your boss and wife have had a 15 month affair, but it appears that something has been going wrong. Could you have been wrongfully terminated for gossiping falsely with coworkers about your spouse’s assumed affair with your boss? Probably not. Could you have been wrongfully terminated for gossiping with coworkers about your spouse’s assumed affair with your boss? Possibly yes.
However, employers have considerable latitude when it comes to firing. Employers pretty much can fire at will without a union contract and with no evidence of discrimination of a protected class. Would it wise for a boss/employer to fire you for discussing this personally sensitive matter? That’s debatable if you had been a responsible and respected. I know this is a stressful time for you both career-wise and marriage-wise. It’s an understatement to wish you well under these circumstances. Yet, I do so realizing that we humans weather unexpected stressful times. If your wife has told you of an affair with your boss, I assume you and your wife of 20 years have been and are deciding how to deal with that.
And of course that is of immediate importance. But now with you being fired, the immediate first task before you is to find another job and secondly is to gather information about wrongful termination from one qualified to give it. Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS; such advice embedded in my signature sentence would seem to be of little help under your circumstances. I can’t tell you this is not a time to be soured on all of life and the workplace. I can’t say you can put all this aside and be cheerful. But I can say this a time to seek the support of family, friends, and possibly a family counselor. It also is a time to eat right and workout physically as you work through this emotionally trying time. If these thoughts are helpful in any way, please feel free after a few weeks to share what you have learned and are doing. We learn from each other that way.