Supervisor Shared My Family Information

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about disclosing family information: She told the co-worker that my father was gay

My supervisor shared personal family information to a co-worker. She told the co-worker that my father was gay without my permission. I attempted to deal with this situation by following our organizations problem resolution by going to my director (supervisor’s boss) by email to schedule a meeting. The director then responded to the email that I needed to follow our hierarchy of command and copied my supervisor on the response. What should I do with this situation? Do I go directly to my human resources department?

Signed, Pissed Off

Dear Pissed Off:

You sought to speak to your supervisor’s boss. In short, you bypassed her. You say you followed the problem resolution protocol; however, you don’t disclose what that is. Nor do you say how you know your supervisor told your coworker that your father is gay and if she gave you permission to say that your supervisor told this personal information. You supervisor’s director told you to follow the hierarchy of command. By that, did the director mean you should first confront your supervisor and then if your complaint was not resolved to your satisfaction, you should then come to him/her? If so that sounds similar to advice given by some religions and personal counselors.

Now you are displeased with the director’s pushing the matter back to you for another go at it, and you ask should you ignore the director’s advice and go directly to HR. My suggestion, before you go to HR, is to learn from the director what she/he means by following the hierarchy of command, and then that you compare that to the information you thought was to following your workplace’s problem resolution procedure. Have you in mind what you want to achieve; an apology or a reprimand of your supervisor or something else?

I gather from your “Pissed Off” signature that you want your supervisor punished. Is that what you want? What kind punishment; to be written up, to be suspended, or to be fired? I suspect that you have other matters you don’t like about your supervisor. Is that not true? And what result do you think reporting your supervisor will mean for you and your interpersonal relationship with your coworker, director and work group? Do you want one or more of them to sympathize with you because you had a gay father? Reading these questions may be unexpected and uncomfortable questions because you rather want the Workplace Doctors to say, “Right on, sister. Show that bitch. Make her regret that she opened her big mouth.”

Boss and bossed can work together not liking each other and while waging a battle, but is that really the way that you want to go to work? Might it not be wise rather than seeking reprisal to seek an understanding with your supervisor that you feel she has violated your personal life and seek an apology/promise that it will not be trespassed on again? Of course, you can answer your question differently. If you wish, go directly to HR. Learn from HR what they advise. It’s HR’s job to deal with such matters; however, in taking this matter yet farther, you should weigh if that will not aggravate both your supervisor and director? Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS is my signature sentence that is intended to cause those who send questions, even questions that reveal a sender is pissed, might think of the big picture; the consequence of their action. So now you can ask is making a boss lose face your best course of action?

William Gorden