How moral does YOUR boss need to be?

This really isn't me folks. A friend, who works in marketing for another company, came to me with a moral problem. Over the past year, there have been rumors that her boss, a high profile guy in the area, has been having an affair with a co-worker, a high profile gal in the community. Both are married to other individuals. (Who strangely enough, work at the same hospital)

My friend asked her boss if they were true and he said they weren't. She then defended her boss to all the community whispers and gossip.

Today, she sat in my office, crying. She has "found out" (don't ask me - I didn't ask for the proof) the rumors are true. She feels like a big stupid heel for defending him, and feels that her trust in his word is kaput. Her problem? She loves her job, but feels that she can't trust her boss's word in personal issues or in work issues any more. So, she sought advice from me - should she stay or go?

On one hand, his personal life, as long as it doesn't cross into work, is his own business. On the other, if he lied about the rumors, what else would he lie about? I know of a CEO who will not hire anyone that he knows of that has cheated on his spouse. The reason? If this individual broke the most important covenent in his life (marriage) what other rules, promises, etc., else will he break to get what he wants? (Sorry guys, I had he/she in here, but it looked long and awkward. If it will make you feel better, please insert the gender of your choice when reading the aforementioned sentence.)

So, what would you do? Stay or go? Just a little moral exercise today.



  • 19 Comments sorted by Votes Date Added
  • I'd stay - the devil you know, that sort of thing.

    But, your friends seems to be shaken to the core. I'm assuming she's like most of us that her job isn't a hobby - she depends on her paycheck. So maybe she should stay but start looking around. You can't stay at a job if you're questioning every move your boss makes.
  • Why go? The guy is a heel and a liar, no question, but does that have a direct impact on your friend's ability to do HER job? Personally, for reasons I'd rather not get into, I've worked for bosses who exhibited similar characteristics (and worse).

    I still managed to work for them, maintain MY set of ethics and ignore their lack of ethics. If the whispers become public and she is ever confronted as to why she defended the jerk, all she has to say is "my conclusion was based on the best information I had available to me at the time" and stare down the idiots who follow up with other questions.

    And when you get down to it, who are any of us to suggest that one transgression automatically begets another? Sure, the propensity may be there to commit further indiscretions, but we are still human beings who can choose to do or not do something.

  • I'd stay. She gains nothing by leaving. I am trying to figure out why she felt the need to ask him to begin with. Did she really think he would tell her if he was having an affair? I'm not being mean here but it wasn't really any of her business or her place to ask such a question. He made his bed (pardon the pun) and he should be prepared to deal with the inevitible rumors that resulted without someone to defend him. But she sounds like a very caring and empathetic person so I guess I can see what she was trying to accomplish.

    But to your friends reaction - I guess most of us - myself included -expect people to behave as we would, with the same set of morals and reactions but that is very rarely true. And I am always dissappointed when people act unethically. If the gossip millers gang up on her, she can simply respond that they were acting on their information and she was acting in hers. And when she hears gossip on the future, tell her to run!
  • I agree with Leslie and Beagle. I've had plenty of bosses that are lacking in morals, but as long as you know where they stand in that regard you can learn how to deal with them.
    It's his time. That doesn't effect how I do my job, unless he starts bringing to work with him. Once that happens then I'd start looking. Until then it's his business and I wouldn't waste my time being bothered with it.
  • Puleeeze! As some of the women would say. Where the boss dips his wick really has no impact on the operation of an HR Department unless it's the HR Department of a church and those are notorious wick dippers. If we were to run polls up and down the halls of our buildings and spit out an Excel spreadsheet of who has put their shoes under someone's bed other than their spouses, and if we made our determinations to stay or go based on that, we would all be walking the street this afternoon.

    His morals and personal decisions aside, she had no business asking him the question and he certainly had no obligation to answer it.

    Tell your friend to grieve if she must, on her own time. Her saint has descended from a pedestal she erected for him. Then tell her to go back to work.
  • [font size="1" color="#FF0000"]LAST EDITED ON 10-08-03 AT 02:04PM (CST)[/font][p]Maybe we should have a debate about what is the most important covenant in life is. Mine would be "Thou shalt not kill." The reality in life is that we are all human (though some are more human than others). This CEO and his girlfriend are doing a lot of damage to themselves and their families. It does not mean he is not doing his job. Why did she ask him if the were rumors true? Did she honestly think he was going to admit to it? Never heard of anyone admitting to an extra-marital affair until they were caught (can't resist--with their pants down).If she cannot work with him on a professional level, for any reason, she should get another job. If it were me, I'd wouldn't change from a job I love.
  • I couldn't have said it any better than Don, and I won't.

    It was none of her business. Get on with life. That specific situation is everywhere. For all she knows, the spouse is aware of it, in denial, doesn't care, who knows. It doesn't matter. Mind your own business.

    I've seen this in a couple office situations where I've worked, discussions about other's personal lives and it's a waste of time.

  • Interesting question. I think adultery is disgusting. I know the effects of adultery on the spouse and family, because my now ex-husband taught me. I also don't believe that dating should occur in the workplace - period & I don't care if you have 10 employees or 10,000 - it's disruptive. That being said, both continue to occur every single day. I don't think your friend is going to find consensus between people on this issue - she's going to have to look deep within herself and find the answer. As strongly as I feel about these two topics, I truly don't know how I would really act if I was in her shoes - no one knows, except her. Give your friend a hug for me - it's always crummy when people you hold in esteem fall from grace.
  • One point point Zanne made that has not been specifically addressed, is her concern that her boss lied to her and can she trust him in the future. I agree with others who have said the adultery part, though not good, can't be the basis for a decision of this magnitude.

    My boss has told me that he has lied to me and will probably again if it suits his needs. I have to make a decision continually whether or not to trust him. I have even asked him point blank if he is telling me the truth or lying again, just to put him on the spot.

    Can you live with his deceipt or not? Was his deceipt done to hurt you? What was his intent? I doubt he was trying to intentionally deceive you, but was trying to cover his butt. What was his reaction after he knew you found him out and he knew he had lied to you? Any remorse?
  • If the boss was deceitful regarding something about work, something that would effect her decision / choice at work, then it would be a completely different subject.

    In this case, when he was backed into a corner about his personal life by somebody "not involved", his only reaction was to try to get away with something. I'm not saying it's right, but I am saying that she needs to move on. The chances are very slim he's going to have a sit-down with her and apologize for mis-leading her.
  • When we respect someone and trust their judgement and they let us down in a huge way it effects us. Most of find that when someone we know does something like this, it crushes us. She may not be able to trust him again. She should stay but float her resume, I don't think she will be able to look at him with the same respect again. Therefore making them both less productive.
  • Zanne: The morality part aside, which is something your friend will have to deal with on a personal basis, the first rule of thumb is - it's really not anyone's business but the boss and the paramour. I would never have asked my boss about his personal life to begin with - chances are - a boss is not going to tell an employee that "Yes, indeed, I am having an adulterous affair."

    If your friend feels that strongly against this type of behavior and feels that respect has been lost, etc, then maybe it's time to look for another job. If I liked my job, I would simply look at it as his own business and he will have to take the consequences...and then go on with my job. If I couldn't deal with it, I'd resign.
  • A friend of mine has very recently suffered for asking the wrong question. Her manager's boss (CEO of Mgmt. co. retained by owner) was the principle (sic?) in the event. One of his female employees travelled from out of state once a month for ten days, as acting Dir. of Sales. Business is such that she lived on site during her visit to city. During these ten days, even though he lived locally, he moved into facility also. Employees reported to my friend that there were signs of "hanky-panky" - but she never witnessed anything personally, nor did anyone witness any successful business being conducted during the ten day periods. The CEO had convinced owner to allow his employee's salary to be paid from payroll of my friend's company, rather than the Mgmt. Co. paying her salary. So technically, she was an employee of the company my friend worked for. Anyway, the commuting DOS didn't show up for work for 60 days. My friend asked her manager if the DOS was still employed; should she still be receiving pay. Well, CEO went ballistic. How dare anyone question this!!! Less than 3 weeks later, my friend was discharged from long-term employment. Reason given - job elimination. My friend has decided to assume the "don't ask/don't tell" policy in the future.
  • Your friend feels betrayed by her boss, especially after defending him. Now she also feels the fool. (A feeling with which I am far too familiar). But the company did not betray her, her personal relationship with the boss has proven an embarrassment and a source of pain. Put the work relationship on a professional level and keep it there. Do not quit, give it some time,- but if the feelings cannot be put in a proper perspective, start looking for another job or a transfer.
  • Your friend obviously had a good relationship with her boss before she learned the truth. She is fortunate. I'd encourage her to try to focus on the things she liked about working for him before she knew "the truth." The fact is, she'll never know the whole story and it isnt her business anyway. Sounds like her boss could use a dependable, loyal colleague right now... she can take the 'high road' and be that for him, she can be the "consummate professional" in an organization where that is clearly lacking (all this gossiping, rumors, etc). If she sticks it out, she'll feel great about herself and her boss may very well end up having true gratitude and appreciation for her loyalty.
  • Wick dipper. Say THAT five times fast. x}>

    I too am surprised that your friend flat-out asked her boss if the rumors were true. Years ago, it came to my attention that a married dept head was allegedly "dating" an hourly employee, not a direct report, but under his supervision when he pulled Manager on Duty shifts. The rumors became disruptive to both individuals' departments.

    Rather than ask him if he was dating the employee, I simply explained that his behavior ("friendly" drinks after work, going hiking together, phone calls during work shifts, etc..) with this employee was resulting in rumors that I thought he should know about.

    Of course, he was incredibly upset that anyone could think he would have an inappropriate relationship outside his marriage. I told him he should be aware of the perception so he could adjust his behavior appropriately.

    Things quieted down, the hourly employee eventually quit for another job.

    About two years later, the managers wife calls me at my new job. Says she and he are divorcing because she found out about his girlfriend from work, (among others) and she wanted to meet me for lunch to chat about it. Of course I declined.

  • Have had this happen (outside of my work life) where I've defended someone only to find out that it was true. Have no regrets about doing so - I would prefer to think positively about someone until proven wrong. The person that loses in all this are those engaged in deceiving others. They're being selfish - have they thought about how their actions would reflect on those they supposedly care about & who care for them (family, friends and collegues).

    In the end, the people to feel sorry for are the innocent victims - their families.

    As far as continuing to work there, she should be asking herself - would she feel any better if her boss said "yes, I am"? What would she have done if this was the case - did she think him acknowledging this would convince him to change his ways?

    She should list the pro's and con's of what she likes and doesn't like before leaving too soon. As someone else posted - the devil you know.... There are no guarantees that another workplace wouldn't present the same dilemma.
  • Geeeezzzze! Can any of you imagine going into your boss's office and asking if he is having a rendezvous with Miss High Profile? As brazen as I am, there is no way would/could I do that. He would have every right to throw me out of his office with an assessment of my intelligence.

    Tell your friend to get real. She needs to recognize her boundaries, no matter how good her intentions were.
  • What made this question very difficult for me was, wearing my HR hat - she had no business asking him and/or "shouldn't" care what he is doing on his own time. However, having been on the wife side of a marriage that ended due to my (now ex) spouse dating his office secretary, I have some strong feelings about affairs. I think that since she knew that history, she was trying to get me to okay her intrusion into his personal life. The HR side of me won out, though.

    I guess I needed a reality check to see if I had become "too HR"....


Sign In or Register to comment.