When the employee is on with the boss’s missus

Chuckles brings us this:

I’m the owner of a business with about 30-40 employees. Recently, I found out that one of my employees has been having an affair with my wife. The employee has worked for me for 4 years. I felt like I was his mentor, since I recruited straight from university, taught him the ropes, and promoted him to a leadership role for one of our main products.

My wife has since left me. I’ve spoken to him, and he says he’s sorry about what’s happened but he’s also not leaving. He says his relationship with my wife should not be a work matter and he’s put too much work into the company to just get fired just because I’m the boss.

I’m bitter and would like him to leave the company, but I’m also realistic. He has been an important part of the company. He’s the oldest employee that’s still around, he knows the application inside out, and while I wouldn’t say he’s indispensable, he’s close to it. At the same time, every time I see his face, I feel like that just kills me inside.

As his superior, what can I do in this situation? We’re a close knit bunch but nobody knows about these personal issues at work. Right now, I’m acting as professionally as I can.

One of the commenters answered:

In your shoes I would first speak to someone well-versed in employment law and see if their actions constitute a breach of trust. Their actions have clearly affected your working relationship to a point at which it is untenable (and I have to say I am impressed with your level of professionalism thus far – not sure I could manage that!)

I think it’s optimistic to assume that your working relationship will improve over time, and I believe that assuming it’s not breaking the law you should get him out as soon as possible.

When you say

… he’s put too much work into the company to just get fired just because I’m the boss …

I would say that any potential firing would not be ‘because you’re the boss’: it would be primarily driven by the lack of trust in your relationship (I cannot see how you could ever trust him again.

His tone seems to be quite arrogant, and this may spill into his working practices (which I would investigate as much as you can) – being the most versed in the company in a given area does not mean that you are necessarily working appropriately, or that no one else could come in and improve performance.

My comment is that it’s possibly best not to hire some goons for a short reminder to the employee of his folly but you must sack the bastard forthwith, on the grounds stated above about trust and gross misconduct, which you’d have in your employment conditions of course.   The thing you don’t do is put it to a forum.

With that done, you then turn your attention to the ex-wife, not harassing her but making things decidedly difficult in perpetuity, stymying her future career for a certain time, short of harassment and within the law of course, then shut both the f***s out of your head from then on and just attend to business as usual.

The difficult bit is shutting it out but it can be done.   And there is such a thing as karma.

7 comments for “When the employee is on with the boss’s missus

  1. Geoffrey S
    January 12, 2013 at 13:57

    Get good advice, try Rennie Solicitors in Bath, top-notch employment lawyers, and then FIRE THE BLOKE!

  2. Daniel1979
    January 12, 2013 at 14:35

    He should man-up and punch this guy in the nose every time he see’s him… soon enough he won’t see either of them again.

  3. JD
    January 12, 2013 at 16:11

    can we hear the other two sides to this tale?
    the wife’s version and the employee’s?

  4. james wilson
    January 12, 2013 at 18:00

    The fact that this fellow did not fire the employee immediately is all we need to know about this man. Both his employee and his wife understand perfectly. Yes, they are both bad characters, but he makes life uncomplicated for them. What happened to him was not bad luck.

    The only things to be gained from a personal calamity are to be found in introspection. The man apparently has considerable talent. He needs to address other areas, within himself. Then he may consider himself lucky to be without the woman, and a much better judge of men.

  5. January 12, 2013 at 18:39

    I think he’d be within his rights to fire the guy – unless there is wording in the contract of employment which could muddy the water – in which case it’d be best to fire him then let him take the case for an employment tribunal to decide.

    In carrying on a affair with his employer’s wife the guy was making the working environment untenable.

    I wonder how long the employer had known of the affair – early on he could have given the guy a written warning, or preferably two, indicating that if he didn’t either leave his employment voluntarily or desist from the affair, he’d be fired.

  6. January 12, 2013 at 19:22

    Though my heart is with Daniel’s solution, my head is more circumspect. The denouement can’t go physical or firearm because the loser here [further] would be the employer.

    What I come back to is that people act with impunity when they:

    1. fear no consequences;
    2. don’t care;
    3. know the law will back them.

    A combination of no-fault divorce and the PC narrative means the woman will always win in a divorce, big time. She knew that and as an employer, he would have known that too.

    So along comes the young buck and she does her cougar thing. With the courage that gives her, she passes that on to the young buck and he gets defiant.

    The one who needs to be hurt here is the wife. She is the central player in it all. She needs to be hurt so much she doesn’t try it on again with some other poor sod. I don’t mean physically, I mean, say, moneywise, hurt in the pocket.

    Someone I knew coming up to a probable divorce played nice with the wife for some time and behind her back closed the factory, sold everything off and paid the employees out big. His accountants had him losing the rest officially through terrible deals with people he knew.

    She knew nothing of this, he then provoked her, she sued for divorce and got a pittance. He never officially had money from that moment on, nor did he want it. He also made it quite clear to everyone that she had caused that to happen, i.e. if she hadn’t been shaping up for a divorce and big payout, he’d never have had to take that action.

    She called him a total bstd.

    I’m with him 100% here because I too will simply not pay alimony and lose my property to someone who did not help create its value [in real terms, not govt agency terms], there’s no secret in that. I’m perfectly happy to sell off to a friend at a staggering loss and officially end up with nothing.

    My feeling is the young buck would tire of her eventually and there she is – ageing and her pretty plans in the dust.

    Now, if the situation were reversed, the wife ran the business and the husband had gone off with a floozy, I’d have had the same attitude and would have advised her the same way – i.e. she should sell off behind hubby’s back etc. In this it’s about guilty/innocent, not about gender per se, except where the govt sticks its oar in.

    I suppose what I’m saying is the employer needs to show the other two “nemo me impune lacessit”.

  7. Amfortas
    January 13, 2013 at 01:24

    Yes, fire the bastard and fire the wife too.

    But DAMN them in public. With glowing references. Praise this chap’s working skills on Linkedin, pointing out his history of loyalty and deception. (‘To all future employers, this man will astonish you with his initiatives and change the face of your Company forever. He will forge relationships that you never imagined’). Publish an advert in the local newspaper congratulating him for taking the disgraceful wife off his hands. Wish her and him all the happiness their duplicity deserves. One might even add a curse, brought down from the heavens upon their heads. Something along the lines of disasters on their families and – in his case, Employers- “yea unto the fifth generation”.

    Make lemonade, laced with arsenic.

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