We’ve all sat around on a Friday evening, over drinks with our friends and played the, “My boss is so creepy he…” game. While it’s usually all in fun and games, not to mention a great way to unwind after an excruciating week, what happens when the fun and games reveals unethical or even illegal behaviors on the part of your boss?
One law student tells the story of how an overbearing office manager would organize his desk when he wasn’t there. Since he was a law student, he only worked part time for a large legal firm. The woman then deleted all of his law school applications that he kept stored on his computer at work since his boss also attended the same law school and had kindly volunteered his assistance. The student hesitated going to the partners because he says he couldn’t prove it, even though everyone in the office knew this woman was capable of such mean behaviors. A. Harrison Barnes, an attorney and founder of LegalAuthority.com, says the student did the right thing, even though it was a frustrating series of weeks for him. “This was handled best by the student because the partners in the firm were already aware of the woman’s actions and even though they didn’t share that bit of information, the student kept on doing his job with the belief the woman would eventually get caught.” She did get caught when she was seen hiding files for a multi-million dollar lawsuit the law firm was defending. Her goal was to accuse the law student of losing the files and hoped to get him fired. Instead, she was the one who was promptly fired and the law student is now a partner in the firm, some ten years later. Still, he remembers the woman as the “creepy middle aged woman who would tiptoe through the office in an attempt to catch any of her co-workers doing anything from stretching their lunch breaks to spending too much time in the bathroom”.
The LegalAuthority.com founder says there are times, however, when a supervisor’s actions do require a meeting with the head honcho. If a boss is making suggestive comments, is discriminating against any of his employees or is refusing to hire any particular race or sex, these actions are absolutely illegal and require immediate action. Even if you’re concerned about coming across as the office tattletale or concerned you’ll sound petty, consider this: the next victim might be quick to file a costly lawsuit and if you’re asked to testify and tell the court you knew of these actions, it could become a big nightmare for the company and potentially even jeopardize your own position. “Your best bet”, says A. Harrison Barnes, “is to not keep this kind of information to yourself. You have a responsibility to yourself, your co-workers and even your employer to speak up”. If your employer chooses to ignore it, then you’ve at least covered your bases and if the behavior continues, you have your own case should you decide to pursue it.
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