Boss is Fooling Around
Q: The president of our company is having an affair with one of our saleswomen. I am an officer of the company and report to him, and she reports to me. I know his wife and children. He is well respected in our industry. More than one person has come to me to report that they have caught the pair in intimate embraces, or touching in inappropriate body areas. It has disturbed my employees and now it's disturbing me. We are a small company, so rumors travel fast. I was told of this several years ago and mentioned it to him, but all he did was laugh. Again today one of my employees came to me and told me that they witnessed them together this afternoon and even said to them, "I guess I shouldn't have seen this, hmm?" and left the room. I'm disappointed and embarrassed by their behavior and feel that it impacts the whole company in a very bad way. Would it be appropriate of me to mention to the president that I know what happened and ask him to keep this out of the office for his sake and the sake of the rest of the employees? He just hired a new CFO who would be very disturbed knowing what his boss is doing with a subordinate. I feel that it could easily be seen as the boss taking advantage of her given his position in the firm. -- Nancy
Dr. Susan: You're right to be concerned, Nancy. What you've described does indeed qualify as a sexual harassment issue, even though the harassment is felt by a third party witnessing the events, or many third parties, as in your company. While the usual perception of sexual harassment is that a boss takes advantage of an employee's vulnerability (i.e., "My male boss is hitting on me..."), I've heard that the most common reported instances involve employees witnessing improprieties in their office and being unhappy about the situation. For example, a significant number of complaints are the "my boss is sleeping with a lesser qualified person in the office and I feel that since I don't sleep with him, too, my career will get sidetracked...." Another number of complaints are filed by very conservative religious employees who say that office affairs by management undermine the moral fiber of the work environment.
What you've described--embarrassment for the boss, the company's reputation in the industry, the boss's family, and worry about the reaction of the new CFO--needs to be dealt with, and now. You should know that all publicly traded corporations are required by recent federal legislation to have anonymous whistleblower email addresses for reporting such instances. Many large private corporations have a similar reporting mechanism, although it is not federally mandated. Investigate what mechanism exists in your company and use it. If there isn't one, find a way to anonymously ask that one be put in place. Outside of that optimal "official" method, your other option is to confront the boss frankly and let him know how he's impacting his workers, and how worried you are about the new CFO's reaction when he finds out.
Copyright © Fun Online Corporation
Advice for Her
Advice for Him
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D.
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D., is a social psychologist, relationship expert, and bestselling and award-winning author. Her books include Loving in Flow: How the Happiest Couples Get and Stay That Way, and Kylie's Heel, a novel for adults.
Pamela G. Chollet, Ph.D.
Dr. Pamela Chollet has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and Master degrees in educational psychology and fine arts. Her passion has been helping people face and get through those times when they feel trapped and unable to move forward.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, stress management expert, and author. If you're feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, or struggling to make changes in your life, Anna can help.