should an extramarital affair disqualify someone from a promotion?

A reader writes:

I was recently in a meeting to discuss internal candidates for a prominent and sensitive position with supervisory responsibilities. When going over candidates, one participant stated they had questions about Candidate A’s judgment, given that Candidate A was currently engaged in an extramarital affair with someone else in the office. Both the people in question are married to other people.

I don’t work closely with this individual, so don’t know if this is rumor, established fact, or what. We are 50+ employees in the office.

I am assuming that it is legal to consider this information in making a hiring decision, since philanderer isn’t a protected category. But do you think we should?

Obviously, the person who raised the point does. While I can understand their perspective, I tend to think that there is a work-personal life separation and what they do in bed with whom has no bearing on their ability or qualifications to do a job.

What do you think?

Well, on one hand, yes, what people do in their personal lives should be their business, and people’s sex lives should generally be irrelevant to their professional lives.

But that’s only true as long as they keep it out of the office. If someone is indiscreet enough that news of their affair with a colleague starts circulating, that says something about their judgment. If they let it come into the office, they’re forfeiting the right to keep it in a protected private zone, where there aren’t work consequences. It’s reasonable to have consequences when someone brings something fairly inflammatory into work.

And carrying on an extramarital affair with a married coworker is inflammatory. It says things about your integrity and character (assuming the person isn’t in an open marriage), and letting it become known at work (without mitigating context, like that the person is now separated) says things about your judgment.

And integrity, character, and judgment and highly relevant factors when you’re hiring — for every single position in your organization, but especially so for a leadership role. So if the rumor is true, it’s a reasonable thing to let impact your decision-making.

But of course, there’s the big if. You don’t know if the information that was reported is true. It could be true, or it might not be, and you obviously shouldn’t make decisions about someone’s career based on false rumors.

As uncomfortable as this will be, I think the best thing you can do here is to talk to the employee in question about it — if for no other reason than to alert them that this rumor is out there. It’s something that’s going to impact their reputation, totally aside from your hiring quandary, and so if it’s not true, they need to know about it so that they can figure out how to mitigate it. Because of the possibility that this is false, letting the person know what’s being said is the right thing to do by your employee. And that conversation should give you a better sense of how to proceed in your own thinking about their candidacy.

{ 224 comments… read them below }

  1. Lia*

    I’m surprised that the OP didn’t include if the married co-worker reports to the Candidate. Many workplaces prohibit relationships between employees and superiors.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I should have included that — I actually emailed the letter-writer to ask exactly that before writing an answer. There’s no reporting relationship. (If there were, that would require way more than what I suggest in my answer — it would require investigating and if true, removing the employee from managing the person, at a minimum.)

      1. Anonymous*

        But what about after the promotion? Same story, or will potential affair person #2 be reporting to potential affair person #1 who is up for a “supervisory” role?

        1. Adam V*

          It sounds like they’re in separate areas, otherwise the wording wouldn’t be about A’s judgment, it’d be about A’s inability to be placed in a supervisory position over B.

  2. Joey*

    Eh. I see that thought process, but being able to hide it is equally problematic. In fact the whole thought process is problematic. It reminds me of the rationale that overweight (no medical problems) have poor self control. Besides if its so problematic why is it bein condoned currently.

    And isn’t it less problematic if say he’s not officially divorced, but is separated from his spouse.

    The whole cheating topic is not really a good indicator of how well he can do the job.

    1. some1*

      “And isn’t it less problematic if say he’s not officially divorced, but is separated from his spouse.”

      Or if the spouses in question know all about it and have chosen to stay and accept it.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        In the latter case, I’d say it’s still poor judgment to have allowed it to become known, because the person should realize that most coworkers are still going to be quite uncomfortable knowing about it, regardless of the spouses’ positions.

        1. Mike C.*

          I find the idea of “allowing it to become known” to be a bit problematic. It’s very easy for someone who has time on their hands and a knack for snooping to find or piece things together.

          Hell, in high school I discovered that two people were having an affair simply because I mentioned to someone else that they always ride in the same car. Being an adult now I know that this is perfectly innocent and back then I was just being a jerk in making the assumption in the first place. But it wasn’t their fault I discovered it, I was just lucky.

          1. some1*

            This occurred to me, too. Maybe they have done everything possible to “keep it out of the office” and someone saw them together (there’s a Supper Club/steakhouse place in my large town that for some reason is notorious for people to go when they have affairs) who told the Hiring Manager.

            If they are carrying on at work or IMing each other all day on company time; that’s a different story (but single co-workers who are dating each other shouldn’t do that either).

            1. anon-2*

              yeah in my region -there’s a restaurant like that. In recent years, they took to radio ads, implicity boasting about its past history.

              In the 50s and 60s if you wanted to know who was doing who in the town, you’d sit in the parking lot on a weekday night, light up a Chesterfield, and take copious notes! I would guess any region of the US or Canada has at least one place like that, as well as a no-tell motel.

          2. Ask a Manager* Post author

            I’m willing to say that if you’re cheating on your spouse, you should have the good sense to at least keep it out of your workplace, and you can’t be surprised if there are consequences there if it becomes known (regardless of how careful you think you’re being).

            1. doreen*

              And not only that, it’s a very bad idea to not keep it out of the workplace if your spouse works for the same employer. I don’t know why, but I always seem to work at places where 1) all three parties are share an employer and 2) the people having the affair make zero effort to keep it secret from anyone but the spouse. If I know your spouse, and I run into you kissing someone else in the stairwell, and you then show up with the third party at your wife’s work location (when your wife is not in the office) , I’m going to question your judgment at the very least – and probably be mad about the position you’ve put me in.

                1. doreen*

                  And sadly it’s true and sometimes even crazier- in one case, there’s a second girlfriend ( at least ) who works at yet another location of the same employer.

                  I don’t particularly want to know any of this stuff- but once you’ve let everyone know you’re married to a coworker ( and not everyone does) , and that you’re carrying on with another coworker (again, not everyone does), I wonder why you haven’t let everyone know about the open marriage / separation /divorce in progress. It’s not my business, of course, but I find it hard to believe that that’s where the line is drawn

                2. Poster formerly known as Jane Doe*

                  Hahahaha! +1

                  Does your place of work also have lots of once in a million year tragedies?

                3. TrainerGirl*

                  When I was in college, I temped at a very large company, in a department that was a drama-filled as Peyton Place. One manager was dating a supervisor, and went away for a long weekend. He came back married, and his male work friends threw him a shower in the break room. Another was having affairs with a married employee as well as one with a very large boyfriend, who came to the office and beat up the manager. A third manager was dating a supervisor, and when she decided to stop seeing her, had the car he’d bought her repossessed at the office. Talk about an introduction to the corporate world!

              1. Meg*

                Well in that case, it’s not really cheating. Not that open marriage/polyamory doesn’t have it’s own pitfalls to navigate in the professional world, but I think it’s fair to consider it a different issue entirely. There was a post awhile ago about someone in an open relationship who was caught by a coworker with her boyfriend (not her primary partner). I thought it garnered some really interesting responses.

                1. Anne*

                  Oh! If anyone can find the link to this, I would really, really like to read it. (Hubby and I are poly. It’s a concern.)

              2. Adam V*

                You’re still dragging your coworkers into your lifestyle, and that’s not fair to them. It’s like wearing your religion on your sleeve – it’s fine for you to be uber-religious, but I expect you to go through your workday without it being an issue for a single coworker. When you’re forcing your coworkers to interact with your lifestyle (whatever it is), it’s not fair.

                1. fposte*

                  I don’t know–we all have lifestyles, after all, so this would mean that spouses couldn’t turn up at work either. The personal life thing gets complicated because we *do* accept the visibility of some lifestyles at work because they’re so common we don’t think about them. I’m not comfortable with the notion that it only counts as a lifestyle (something that must be kept away from work) if it’s a minority one.

                  I’d be more inclined to agree if you’d said “sex practices,” in that I really don’t want to be confronted with even the most vanilla sex from a co-worker and in-office canoodling is a bad plan whether you’re cheating or not. But there’s not a clear line between a sex practice and a lifestyle, given that the latter tends to involve the former.

                2. TheSnarkyB*

                  I know this post is a couple days old but I went dark for a couple months there, am just catching up, and just had to weigh in – if only to jump on the fposte eloquence train.

                  I completely agree – this shouldn’t be called “a lifestyle” if other mainstream ways of love and nookie aren’t going to be called that too. And let’s face it – when used like that, “lifestyle” is a euphemism that, whether meant to be or not, is dog-whistle heterosexism, because that’s how the word “lifestyle” has been used in these contexts.

                  That being said, I think that if you have an open relationship and you’re going to “be with” someone in the office – whether it’s romantic, sexual, whatever – you have to approach that with the knowledge that if you can’t keep it 100% secret from the office (and you can’t), you need to operate with the office in mind. It isn’t fair to bring other people into that situation. NOT because they should be spared the icky or oogly feelings they may have about it, but because most people don’t want to feel like they’re privy to something they shouldn’t be (most people don’t want to think you’re cheating on your spouse). I think you can either be awesomely proud but private about your open relationship- and then your “others” can’t be in the office. OR you can do the scarier option which is being proudly open & “out” about your open relationship – which probably has more consequences, discrimination, hate, etc. but would allow people to understand what’s happening, even to ask you questions and become educated (if you’re willing to do that), etc.
                  If you’re going to love or nookie people in your office, you gotta tell people about the open marriage or know that your coworkers will think you’re cheating on your wife and the ensuing judgments and assumptions that come from that.

                  And this is all being said as someone who has been in open and closed relationships in multiple contexts.

              3. Chinook*

                If you have an open marriage and others think you are cheating on your spouse, it would be to your advantage to let it be known about the openness or keep your dating life discrete.

              4. anon-2*

                Well, Mike, if you’re in an “open marriage” – and make that fact known, that can ALSO reflect bad judgement and greatly impact one’s trip up the promotional ladder.

                So can being into “polyamory”. So can being into swinging. Keep it out of the office. And keep DISCUSSION and KNOWLEDGE of any such activities out of the office, too.

                In other words, don’t take “the other woman” to the office Christmas party or summer picnic.

            2. A. Nonymous*

              Not sure if anyone mentioned this already but this type of information is fair game when being investigated for security clearances for sensitive material. Life choices and judgment aside, if the person’s spouse doesn’t know about the affair the information could be used for blackmail or coercion.

              1. Chinook*

                It is the blackmail possibilities that are more dangerous than the actual morality issues. If what you are doing could be used against you to influence your decisions, then it is probably something you either need to more open about it or stop doing it.

            3. al fair*

              if a candidate is known to hit their children, without there having been any legal interventions, can you hold them back from promotion?

            4. I'm a cheater*

              Let me be honest. I have been having an affair at my office for a year now. Let me explain something first. I travel a lot and have a dysfunctional relationship. I spend a lot of time with my colleagues and it’s hard not to fall for one of them. I’ve struggled to make it work with my husband but it takes two to tango. In order to think straight and be normal I have needs that need to be met and if they aren’t by my spouse but are by others I’ll gravitate towards them…even if I don’t want to initially. It’s common to have an affair at the office because you spend more time in the office than you do with your spouse. I’m not saying it’s right. But it’s just easy to get into an affair at the office.

              I’ve never slept with any colleagues but I do think that it is hard to have “proper judgement” when you’re emotionally vulnerable and someone helps fill your void.

              Like I said it’s not right but that’ affair may help you in the office….like it or not that’s the truth. It may hurt too of course.

        2. al fair*

          coworker discomfort with polyamory or whatever is going on shouldnt affect your promotability. coworkers might be uncomfortable with someone’s sexual orientation, religion or gender expression, but none of that should make you unpromoteable. polyamory isn’t immoral. if allowing other people to know that you are dating someone else in the office is ok when you are not poly is ok, it should be ok if you’re poly.

            1. al*

              so what? some people think homosexuality is immoral, or premarital sex. or oral sex. some people think it is immoral to not go to church every sunday, or to take god’s name in vain. some people think it’s immoral for women to work at all. or for men to not wear hats. or drink alcohol.

              I suppose it is poor judgement to tell someone who thinks your behavior is immoral the things that you do, but none of these activities really affect someone’s ability to do a job. if people aren’t making out in the supply closet, it shouldn’t be anyone’s business, even if they know it’s going on.

              1. anon-2*

                Y’see Al, you’re missing the point.

                “I suppose it is poor judgement to tell someone who things your behavior is immoral”….

                Hell, no. No one’s going to tell someone who claims to be in an “open marriage” and acts on it openly, that he/she is doing something wrong. It’s just that managers talk about these things privately, and make promotional decisions accordingly.

                Yes, some people still think being gay or Lesbian is bad – but we are getting over those prejudices as a society. But those who have “open marriages” or “polyamorous relationships” — and are open to the world about those things — must stand in judgement of others. And they might not like the results. And they may also never be told, either, that they didn’t get the job/promotion/etc.

                1. Anne*

                  Hi. I’m poly. I am married, I have a boyfriend I’ve been dating longer than my husband, and a girlfriend I’ve been dating on and off for a few years now.

                  >No one’s going to tell someone who claims to be in an “open marriage” and acts on it openly, that he/she is doing something wrong.

                  I beg to differ. They definitely will. And have.

                  >But those who have “open marriages” or “polyamorous relationships” — and are open to the world about those things — must stand in judgement of others. And they might not like the results.

                  I’m assuming you meant “in the judgement of others” here. Yes, this is why no one at my workplace knows that my husband and I are poly, even though they know both of us and I’m confident that most of my co-workers would be fine with it. It just takes one or two managers who aren’t fine with it, and my career stalls. Heck, very few even know I’m bi, although I’m butch enough I assume some have guessed. If someone asks, or if it comes up, I’m honest, but I’m not going to bring it up myself.

                  This bothers me. I don’t feel that I have anything to hide, but I do hide it. I know people who do not hide it at work, who are activists about it. Maybe someday I’ll join them.

                  My husband is in the interesting position of being managed by one of our very good friends, who knew us well before either of us even graduated, and is also in an open marriage… I’m interested to see how it plays out. But he’s tech, I’m finance. Very different industries.

                2. Anne*

                  Also, yeah, HUGE, HUGE rule against co-workers.

                  The rules that have kept hubby and I happily poly with a minimum of drama since college:

                  1. No teenagers.
                  2. STD checks for everyone.
                  3. No co-workers.
                  4. Everyone knows who everyone else is with, and has the chance to meet them if they want to.

                  Thinking about it, if a hypothetical person was having an “affair” at work and it turned out they had an open marriage and everyone involved was okay with it… as a poly person, I still think that’s a terrible idea. I would not want them to be discriminated against for being poly, but I would also want to give them a dope-slap for being DUMB.

                  But some people just do poly badly. Like anything.

                3. al*

                  it is poor judgement to let someone know that you participate in a lifestyle or engage in a behavior they disapprove of, if their disapproval might affect your job. it is -not- poor judgement to be involved with more than one person at a time, married or not.

      1. J*

        Obviously what’s considered problematic is relative to the individual. However, when you have something that goes against what is generally socially acceptable (like a supposed affair in this case), it would behoove you to try and keep it under wraps. In an instance that is not widely considered to be taboo, I’d leave it up to that person to decide how to handle it.

        1. al fair*

          a lot of things that were once taboo are no longer taboo. taboos are by and large oppressive behavioral controls and not some kind of innate morality. in the past a woman might be fired if her coworkers found out she had a baby out of wedlock. that doesn’t mean it was ok at the time to persecute her for that, just that people accepted it.

  3. Lizabeth*

    Sensitive material access + office affair = potential blackmail

    Even being vetted for a government security clearance they ask about affairs.

    1. anon in tejas*

      yeah, but clearly not a lot of weight is put on that. (see lots of presidents, and military leaders)

    2. al fair*

      you say ‘even’ as if being vetted for a gov’t position is somehow the least kind of background check. and like someone else said, politicians have affairs all the time. and a lot of them are failing about family values before they’re caught.

  4. A Dispatcher*

    Ugh, there really is no good way to deal with this situation, is there?

    A bit of a hypothetical for Alison, as the comments section of the last post also deals with defamation. Let’s say the company chooses someone else for reasons totally unrelated to any of this. However, they have already talked to the candidate and the rumor is totally false or the candidate totally denies it and there is no proof otherwise. If the candidate is then upset and feels this rumor damaged their chances, how should OP’s company best deal with this? They might be confident in their reasoning, but like the rumor, it may be hard to prove.

    1. Jen in RO*

      For OP’s sake, I hope one of the other candidates is obviously more qualified for the position and they can avoid this clusterf**k… but I guess all candidates are good, otherwise we wouldn’t be reading this post.

  5. Elizabeth*

    I’ve been the person about whom such rumors were spread. Each time, the rumors were false.

    Please have the conversation. They need to know that their professional reputation is in danger. If it is true, they should know that they have created a serious issue for themselves. If it is false, they need to know that something is appearing to others to be inappropriate, even if it isn’t.

    1. Anonymous*

      Someone I’d met once years ago in a group setting started a rumor and joyfully retold false gossip about me to anyone who would listen. She insisted I was dating a coworker behind my boyfriend’s back. What she didn’t know is that #1 my boyfriend and said coworker are friends #2 I was pregnant (oh yeah, super sexy) #3 all the people she was spreading the rumor to knew me personally (including my closest cousin).

      People are just crazy.

    2. Diane*

      Take this rumor with a grain of salt. Have a conversation, as Elizabeth said. If the rumors are false, they are doing damage to your workplace and your employees. Look at the climate of gossip and collegiality.

      I’ve been in that situation as well, and it stinks. In my case, rumors are still swirling after four years; I used to work closely with a colleague on several projects, before he was promoted. Since I don’t know who’s still fanning the flames, I feel I can’t defend myself beyond doing impeccable work and behaving less warmly with colleagues.

    3. Glor*

      I have to agree… at one of my jobs, a coworker specifically and deliberately started a number of rumors that I was dating/having an affair with my boss [dating not being so much the problem other than the chain of command issue, the “affair” was me cheating on my now-fiance]… I still don’t know why she started it, but that was a nasty story to kill even though we knew who started it, and even though we were a pretty small place.

      Perhaps the person is having an affair. Perhaps they’re not. But one way or another there’s a rumor and that needs to be addressed because it’s obviously causing issues.

  6. Katie the Fed*

    I would absolutely consider that information in making a decision. It speaks to someone’s character, honest, and discretion – all very important qualities in a supervisor. An affair can have all kinds of consequences for an employer – jilted spouses showing up and creating a scene, messy and complicated divorces, lawsuits, etc.

    I’m just not sure how to go about finding out if it’s true, or if the member of the hiring committee has a vendetta, or anything. Do you have a good relationship with the person’s current supervisor?

    I would also be careful on the legal issues. Philanderer isn’t a protected category, but be careful that in your discussions nobody is using any gender-specific derogatory language to discuss the candidate’s relationships. Also I’d be careful that if this affair does limit the career advancement of one party, it is taken into consideration for the other party as well. It wouldn’t look good if the female gets denied promotion for it but the male partner gets a big promotion, ya know?

      1. Katie the Fed*

        They still should have kept it more discreet in the office. That goes for any office romance, in my opinion, but even more so when it’s something that has the potential to be so distracting and drama-filled for coworkers.

        What people do in their time is their business. But if they conduct themselves unprofessionally in the office and make it other people’s business, then it’s a problem.

        1. some1*

          See my above comment, we don’t know that they were indiscreet in the office. Employee 1 could have seen them at a bar together, told Employee 2 who told the Hiring Manager.

          1. Katie the Fed*

            hm ok, that’s a fair point. I guess I’d get more information.

            The situations I’ve known of when people in the same office were having an affair, I only knew because it was really, really obvious. Like leaving a work party together and then one person’s husband calling the host of the party at 2am wondering why his wife hadn’t come home, etc.

            If they’re keeping it COMPLETELY out of the office, I probably wouldn’t care.

            1. some1*

              Yeah, if people are behaving like that, than they need to deal with the consequences that it can and probably will hurt their career.

          2. Adam V*

            As we saw in today’s first post, however, your behavior away from the office can still have an impact on how you’re treated at the office.

          3. Anne*

            As a practicing poly person… I would still want to give them a dope-slap for dating someone in the office. That’s a no-no even if you’re monogamous. If you’re poly?! Playing with fire.

        2. BCW*

          But nothing about this says they were inappropriate in the office. Just because others aren’t ok with their lifestyle, doesn’t mean it needs to be hidden (if for example it is an open relationship). Would you say 2 people in an office in a homosexual relationship need to be more discreet because it could be “distracting or drama filled” for co-workers?

          1. Katie the Fed*

            Well, I addressed the homosexual question below (it’s a completely inappropriate comparison to this question though).

            Sure, someone cheating on their spouse doesn’t have to keep it hidden. If you want to own it, own it. But recognize that others – who may be in a position to influence your career – might think that you’re lacking in judgment and discretion and decide there are better candidates for advancement. There’s a reason the military slams officers in particular for marital infidelity – it calls into question your ability to leads and set an example. Many, many generals and admirals have had premature ends to their careers because of infidelity.

            1. BCW*

              I think the reason we both (separately) had that comparison is that for some people the morality (or immorality) is the same for both. If someone wants to question your judgment because of who you are sleeping with, I think its a problem. The military has a whole ton of things that they do that aren’t exactly great for companies to emulate (and I mean that with all due respect toward people serving or who have served), so I wouldn’t use them as a great example of how things should run.

              1. A Dispatcher*

                There are plenty of times when sleeping with someone at work can call one’s judgment into question, and rightly so, imo. Sleeping with a superior/subordinate, certain clients or contractors, etc. If you’re shacking up with someone at work, you need to be aware of the implications and complications. That’s not to say workplace romances can’t or shouldn’t happen, but if you don’t want who you’re sleeping with to become an issue at work, probably best to choose to date outside the office.

                1. Katie the Fed*

                  Right! And the problem with affairs is they can’t really conduct them at home so they’re probably using company time/resources to talk/spend time together.

                2. some1*

                  “If you’re shacking up with someone at work”

                  Just as an aside, shacking up actually means living with someone you’re not married to, it’s not any illicit relationship.

                3. A Dispatcher*

                  Some1 – true. It just sounded so good as I typed it. I hit enter and realized it wasn’t quite what I meant :)

        3. Kelly O*

          I absolutely agree with this.

          Leave what you do in those intimate moments out of the office – whether married, single, poly, whatever. I don’t need to know about it in the office. Period. Ever.

    1. Joey*

      Is a gay couple who isn’t discreet a problem? You mean not honest to the spouses? What does that have to do with the job?

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Gay couple cheating on spouses would be exactly as problematic as a straight couple cheating on spouses, no more or no less. Same issues as the one in the post.

        1. Joey*

          What about a gay couple that is the topic of the grapevine simply for being gay?

          Or do you think that employers should be the fidelity police?

          1. Katie the Fed*

            I’m confused because that’s completely different than the OP. Apples and oranges comparison.

            Gay couples really aren’t that shocking to most people anymore, at least not where I live/work. It’s about as normal as it gets, so…yeah. But I guess if you worked somewhere where you know the culture/employer is very disapproving of that lifestyle AND you’re not in a state with legal anti-discrimination protections for sexual orientation, I’d be very discreet.

            Regardless, anyone entering into an office romance should be discreet. Gay, straight, single, married – if you met in the office then make sure you conduct the romance outside of work.

            1. Joey*

              It looks like the line Alison is drawing is that if it makes others uncomfortable you should be discreet? If that’s the line it’s highly problematic

              1. Briggs*

                No, I don’t think it’s about what makes the majority of the office comfortable, but rather what it says about the cheater’s lack of integrity and good judgement.

                1. Joey*

                  Personally I think it says more about the person who divulged the gossip in the first place. A gossip, someone whose willing to make judgements based gossip, integrity.

                2. Katie the Fed*

                  And it’s a totally different kind of discomfort. What makes people (including me) particularly uncomfortable about infidelity is that they’re often being made party to it. When a jilted spouse shows up to work, when a spouse calls to find out if his wife left with so-and-so, someone wants to know where someone else is – it drags other people into it. Keep it out of the workplace.

                3. Briggs*

                  Joey, for some reason I can’t reply to your comment below.

                  If there’s a separation, or an open marriage, or some other scenario where there has been no lying, then I’d say that’s fine and nobody’s business what connecting adults do behind closed doors.

                  The problem here is that the rumor is on of “cheating”. That includes lying, and if you’re dishonest at home, there’s a greater chance you’re dishonest in the workplace. The problem is with the perception of dishonesty, not the perception of relationship statuses.

                4. Joey*

                  If being faithful to your partner is a good sign of honesty then why don’t you ask that question of everyone?

                5. Briggs*

                  I did not say that being faithful to your partner was an indicator of honesty, I said lying to your partner was a clear indication of dishonesty.

                  What we’re discussing here is what to do with an indication of dishonesty now that it’s come up.

                  I’m finished with this discussion line now.

              2. Jamie*

                I don’t think the line is whether or not other people are uncomfortable. But in a situation where one of the various interpretations it’s fair to consider it.

                Open marriage or cheating on a spouse in what was promised to be a monogamous marriage. Sure, the former is technically no one’s business, but the latter clearly shows problems with character, judgement, and how rules don’t apply to them when they want something. All of those are very problematic in a management position.

                And I don’t know what the statistics are, but I’m assuming that the vast majority of marriages are not open and most people don’t have experience with that lifestyle – so barring that information people are going to make judgements based on what is likely to be true – statistically – and that’s a married person seeing someone besides their spouse is cheating.

                That old saying if you hear hoofprints do you think horse or zebra? You can’t blame people for not taking every possible variant into account when they are exposed to what could be troubling behavior.

                1. Anonymous*

                  I agree with Jamie. To me what you do in your private life reflects your character. Your character carries over into every part of your life.
                  The part about rules not applying to them is true too. In society we do know right from wrong. If you choose wrong in your personal life that is just a statement of your true colors.

                2. Jamie*

                  There is a difference between martial problems and cheating. And I don’t believe in digging through ones personal life, if it’s not brought to the attention at work it wouldn’t be known, but absolutely the act of cheating makes a clear statement that the person has no problem with unethical behavior if it serves a personal need.

                  The way I look at it is if you would disregard the rules and promise you made to the person you loved enough at one point to marry what are the odds you’re going to abide by or force inconvenient policy I a work place…because you should have a lot less loyalty to your employer and coworkers this to the person with whom you share your life.

                  And I’m sure there are people who can be unethical in their personal life and the epitome of integrity at work…but I’m guessing that’s not the norm and you can’t blame people for seeing evidence of lack of character and factoring that in when considering one for a job where it’s important.

                3. Joey*

                  No I don’t blame them. I just think its reaction that’s based more on biases and not on job related criteria. Its not much different than making incorrect inferences based on other things that have nothing to do with job performance. Similar to assuming overweight people are lazy or that childless people will work harder, or that someone who smokes a joint every now and then is a stoner.

          2. A Dispatcher*

            I’m confused? Are you equating simply being gay with being unfaithful in marriage?

            I can see what you are trying to do there (some people think both are immoral, some think only one is, some have no issue with either, so who are we to police it), but I don’t think the two can be accurately compared. The extramarital affair has significantly more chances for negative repercussions for the company than does an openly gay employee (or two employees in a same-sex relationship).

            1. BCW*

              I don’t know. I think it really depends on your office. I think there are definitely some offices that would be more accepting of an extra-marital affair than they would an openly gay person there. I’m not comparing them on morality, because frankly what you do in your personal time has no bearing on me. But I’m saying for some people they are both an issue.

              1. A Dispatcher*

                And in some offices a person being black would be a bigger issue than an affair. We can’t use outliers as a general standard. Neither being black nor being gay makes a statement about one’s judgment and integrity (though I suppose you could find some who would argue about the latter). Participating in an affair with a coworker (who is also married) does however indicate some judgment issues*

                I am leaving the open marriage issue out of this. If both parties are truly in open marriages (I highly doubt this), my opinion would differ.

          3. Briggs*

            Sounds like you’re trying to make this about something else.

            The problem here is that cheating on your spouse with someone in your workplace might suggest a lack of sound judgement, and also a potential for blackmail. Being gay in the workplace is not an indicator of potential lack of judgement.

            1. Joey*

              Is t that sort of like sayin overweight people who can’t lean on a medical issue have self control and problems and can’t attain their goals?

              1. A Dispatcher*

                Okay, you are really stretching at this point. I did not enter into a contract with anyone to maintain a certain weight. What if I’m totally cool with being at a weight that is overweight; I may have no goal to be at whatever weight you’re deeming appropriate. There is no self-control or attainment issue there.

                I think I would be much more in agreement with you if this affair was happening outside of work. I may not speak for all, or even the majority of the commenters on this, but it’s the in-house aspect of the affair that concerns me most about the candidate’s judgment.

              2. Briggs*

                Wait … you’re equating being overweight with cheating on your spouse?

                Being overweight is not something you decide to do when you’re unhappy at home and see an attractive coworker smiling at you. Cheating is an active decision. Being overweight usually isn’t. Also, you have far less control over your body size and shape than you do over what you do in your spare time.

                I don’t think you can equate an active decision (cheating) with a passive condition of being (weight).

              3. Katie the Fed*

                I think you’re really stretching here with every strange comparison you can come up with, but I’ll take this one because I actually AM overweight and I have a craptastic thyroid due to an autoimmune condition that is a pain to regulate and makes it really, really hard to lose weight:

                It doesn’t matter! People are going to judge regardless of what the reality of the situation is. I know people judge me and think I’m lazy and lack willpower and the rare occasion I actually do decide to eat a brownie I know they’re sitting there internally concern-trolling about my health. I have NO control over what people think. They can think whatever they want. My weight probably hurts my career, too, because people judge and make opinions about every aspect of a candidate.

                If I’m cheating on my spouse – it really doesn’t matter what my reasons are, or if they’re good or stupid reasons. People are going to have their opinions, and I’ll have to deal with the fallout of those opinions.

              4. Mike C.*

                No, Joey’s point here makes sense. The comparison he’s drawing is this:

                Albert does/is thing-> Betty draws inferences upon the character of Albert for doing/being thing.

                Some people believe that because you’re sleeping with someone you aren’t married with means you lack integrity. Some people believe that you’re an immoral person for being homosexual. Other people believe that if you’re overweight, you’re lazy and have self control issues.

                That’s where the comparison is – not in the specific state of being, but rather the incorrect inferences being drawn upon by others.

                1. A Dispatcher*

                  To me the difference is that having an affair with a married coworker is a bad idea, in the same way starting a relationship with a subordinate is a bad idea. The person doing it does lack some judgment. There is no inference. Does it mean the person is a horrible worker who can never be trusted and should never be promoted, no. But it’s a factor I would feel comfortable taking into account.

                  Please note I’m taking the situation at face value here (that there is an affair and that there are no open marriage/separation issues). And it’s very important that this affair is with a coworker, and is not just an affair in general. That brings it much more into the realm of questionable career decisions.

          4. Bryan*

            Being punished simply for being gay is wrong. Being gay is different than not being faithful to a person. If employers are the fidelity police they would only go after the gay employee for cheating, not for being gay.

          5. Observer*

            As one well known employer once said “If your spouse can’t trust you, then why should I?”

            The bottom line is that a married person having an affair indicates a lack of integrity. Period. When you get married, you make a commitment to exclusivity. Do you really expect that people will keep their commitments to their employers MORE strongly than their spouses?

            1. Cat*

              I don’t think life is that simple. Just look at history: plenty of incredible things have been accomplished by people with disastrous marriages.

            2. Joey*

              Are you saying because he’s had an extramarital affair he’s more likely to cheat on his employer and leave?

            3. TL*

              Sometimes, yes. Would you disagree with the idea that many problems with marriage are caused by a faulty work-life balance?

  7. BCW*

    I’m not a big fan of taking it into account. First off, as mentioned, you don’t know for a fact it’s true. Then even if it is true, as Joey said, what if he is married only in the legal sense, but they are separated and the soon to be ex wife is fully aware of it, and she is moving on too? Either way, I don’t think it has any bearing on how well you perform your job. If they are the best candidate for the job, then whatever their extracurricular activities are shouldn’t matter.

    1. IndieGir*

      I dunno. I worked in an office where two people, one of them my boss, were conducting an affair (or at the very least an emotional affair) and it was incredibly disruptive. I could never go in to ask my boss for anything without him being there and whispering in her ear, or her being on the phone with him while he’s in his office across the way and the both of them giggling like teenagers. There were some days I literally couldn’t do my job because I couldn’t connect with my boss due to her shenanigans. So yeah, it really impacted how I thought of my boss and when she later applied at a company I was working at, I gave her a HUGE thumbs down for grossly unprofessional behavior.

      1. Natalie*

        But the issues you describe aren’t inherent to having an affair – if your boss was behaving exactly the same way but was married to the man in question, it’d be just as annoying and disruptive.

  8. Kay*

    It may also hamper this candidates ability to supervise, which sounds like a big part of the job. If the rumors are flying, its possible that they won’t be able to be as effective as a leader.

    1. thenoiseinspace*

      That was my thought as well. Most people probably won’t look up to someone like that and many would probably resent him/her being their manager. It could cause major problems in the office.

      1. BCW*

        But that could happen with ANYONE promoted in the office. Trust me, I’ve had more than a couple of people promoted above me that I didn’t have much respect for a variety of reasons. Usually these were much more related to the workplace than who they were sleeping with.

        1. AWill*

          But they aren’t even hired yet and are already having issues. They would have to be an incredible candidate for me to ignore that fact that they will be going into a supervisor job with the rumor mill already stacking the deck not in their favor. Respectability issues could happen to anyone, but they have already happened with this candidate.

          1. BCW*

            I’m directly referring to people who were co-workers of mine who then were promoted to a management position. So I had all of that baggage, etc. My point is any internal candidate they are interviewing could also have baggage that people have about them.

            1. AWill*

              That is true, my point is that I don’t think you can ignore any sort of baggage that you are aware of ahead of time as a hiring manager. Whether it be infidelity or something else, I think you have to consider it in how you view the candidate and how you expect others will view the candidate. If the hiring manager thinks they are the best for the job even with the baggage, then that is that. But I don’t think you can simply ignore it.

      2. AGirlCalledFriday*

        This. I had a job where my young supervisor seemed to be cheating on his long term girlfriend with a coworker. They were always in her office, leaving together or staying late, and rumors abounded. He was a hard worker but absolutely no one had any respect for him. I’m not debating whether this was right or not, but I am stating the cold hard fact. Zero respect. That’s the problem when promoting someone who may or may not be having an affair. The person is seen as less trustworthy, less of a ‘good person’. My guess is that too many people have endured the pain of being cheated on or derived some discomfort from similar situations to feel comfortable turning a blind eye.

    2. Mike C.*

      I’m a bit torn on this. Isn’t it insubordination if I as an employee pull those sorts of games on my boss? Aren’t I supposed to do what they say in a respectful, professional manner regardless?

  9. pizzagrl*

    If the candidate is strong enough to be considered, then he/she should be granted the courtesy of a conversation with those making the decision. True or not, you never know the circumstances of someone’s relationship. Are they separated? Headed towards a divorce? Is the spouse aware of what’s going on and okay with it (this could be the case for a variety of reasons including those I mentioned above). This sounds far too speculative to push someone out of the running for something that could be so important to them. My mother cheated on my father with her boss and it eventually broke up their marriage, but I’ve never faulted her for this and I don’t think that her cheating is necessarily immediately indicative of someone who lacks integrity, character, and judgment. My mom knows she made a mistake and still many, many, many years later beats herself up about it. You just never know.

    1. some1*

      I worked at a place where this was really common. Two people had been having an affair for 12 years and another married couple had met when the wife started working there as the husband’s subordinate and they were married to other people.

      1. Anon for this post*

        Super common where I work as well. We have one woman who was hired after her husband had worked here for a while, proceeded to cheat on him with a married coworker, and eventually married that coworker. All three still work together, with the ex-spouses actually working closely together in the same department. It really should be more dysfunctional than it is – to their credit, they keep things very professional at work.

  10. Mike C.*

    How does the OP know it’s not simply an open marriage? They’re not going to check with you (or anyone else at work) and from the outside it would look like an affair.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      It could be an open marriage. But it’s still poor judgment to have allowed it to become known, because the person should realize that most coworkers are still going to be quite uncomfortable knowing about it, regardless of the spouses’ positions.

      I’m comfortable saying that if you’re married, you shouldn’t be having affairs in the workplace (regardless of your spouse’s stance). Keep it out of the workplace, and that way it can stay no one’s business.

      1. Joey*

        Most co workers are going to be uncomfortable with transgender relationships too. Does that mean they need to be kept discreet?

        1. Hous*

          What do you even mean here? Coworkers would be uncomfortable if they discovered a cis coworker was in a relationship with someone who was trans*? Coworkers want to think of their trans* associates as sexless, so the knowledge that they have romantic lives is a burden which must be avoided?

          Regardless of the specifics, I know you’re trying to make the argument that other coworkers’ feelings should not be the basis for management decisions, and I’m with you on that in many ways. But the way you’re equating the existence of LGBT people in romantic relationships as a parallel to marital infidelity is pretty hurtful and not particularly relevant.

          1. Joey*

            I’m only using sexuality as an example because its commonly uncomfortable. Although anything that makes people uncomfortable could be substituted. The point is that other employees uncomfortableness shouldn’t dictate the decision unless its relevant. This is no more relevant than anything anyone does outside of work that makes people uncomfortable.

            1. Elizabeth West*

              No, not really. Or hopefully, at least not very much longer.

              I could not give a flap if someone is gay, but if a coworker–gay or straight–were cheating on their partner or spouse, I might think at the very least that they lack personal boundaries and judgment. But if they’re getting their work done and the personal crap isn’t interfering, it’s really none of my business.

            2. Hous*

              Look, as a queer person, I get really tired of non-straight sexualities being used as the “good” thing you can do in your personal life that people judge you for. It’s the opposite use of “furry” down there. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great that we’re at a point where if you say “but what if they were gay?” in many forums and have it be effective to make people question whether or not the action is okay (although that’s also an argument that it’s not nearly as uncomfortable as you’re making it out to be). But it sucks to have the existence of romance in your life equated to a conscious choice someone makes to break a legal contract they entered into with another person. I’m with you that extra-marital affairs aren’t an employer’s business, but I am genuinely asking you to consider retiring this line of argument.

              (I am, I admit, assuming you yourself are not LGBT, which I’m doing because I think I remember your mentioning your wife. If you aren’t cis/straight and are comfortable with these comparisons, more power to you, I suppose, but I’m still opposed.)

              1. A Dispatcher*

                Thank you for posting this. I am not sure if I have ever used the “but what if they were gay” line of reasoning in an argument, but I will always think of you now if I am ever tempted to do so and stop immediately. I’d never thought about it in that way, and I can see how problematic it is.

                1. Hous*

                  I’m so glad to hear it, seriously. I struggled for a long time to articulate why I find these comparisons difficult, and I’m glad I was able to here.

                2. Elizabeth West*

                  I don’t understand why anyone would use it in the first place. All the people I know who are gay and in relationships/married have the exact same issues, joys, problems, etc. as straight people in the same situation.

              2. Anne*

                Can I please apologise to you on behalf of all the polyamorous or kinky people who compare themselves to the LGBT community to show how oppressed they (we) are?

                Because you know, not being able to talk about my girlfriend at work because they know I have a husband is JUST LIKE not being able to talk about my girlfriend at work because my co-workers are violently homophobic. IT’S THE EXACT SAME THING. OBVIOUSLY. (arrrggghhhh)

                I try to slap them down when I hear them. But I imagine it must be incredibly irritating. So. I apologise for my jerk peers.

            3. Rhoda*

              I think you’re missing the point as to what people mean by uncomfortable.
              If you tell someone about your adultery then you are unfairly putting them on the horns of a dilemma and involving them in your drama. If you are cheating on Sam and I know Sam then I am uncomfortable because I don’t know whether to be honest and tell Sam or be loyal to you and keep a confidence. This is shoddy behaviour and an unfair postion to put someone in, especially at work.

              Whereas someone who is uncomfortable with gay people is just going ‘icky gays’. It’s a different sort of uncomfortableness.

          2. amaranth16*

            I don’t think the equation is with infidelity, at least not in the sense of deception. I think the commenter is saying that we don’t know whether the spouses are being deceived, and if they aren’t – e.g. if all parties in the relationships are comfortable with this arrangement – then “discomfort” shouldn’t be the standard because there are plenty of things that make people uncomfortable that are in fact none of their business.

        2. Anoners*

          Isn’t the major problem about having an affair at work can have real implications, which have already been voiced numerous times on this discussion? (spurned lover showing up, forcing people to cover their tracks, weird power imbalances, or any other range of tangible situations could play out)?

      2. fposte*

        Is it poor judgment for it to have become known, or poor judgment for it to have become known without context? Seems to me if it’s within an open relationship that this is just like dating somebody at work–you don’t flaunt it or allow it to interfere with your work, but you don’t have to keep it from being known at all costs.

        I’m not sure how exactly you’d manage that context–enlist your most trusted and gossipy colleague with the exciting news that you and Bob have never been happier since you started dating Wakeen, and it’s great how well the two of them get along? But at least in theory I don’t think it’s the same problem if it’s an open relationship. To me the work problem is more the office’s unintentional complicity in any deceit rather the actual relationship.

    2. annie*

      I’ve been in this situation at work which I’ve commented about in the past. First, someone always brings this up, and I gotta say, I think open marriages are still not very common, so its pretty unlikely that in any given situation that’s what is going on. That said, in my situation – I did not know if my coworker was having an affair or not, just that he was seen with someone else. (It was very obvious, frequent, and at company produced events or in phone calls in the open office, so it was unavoidable for us to notice.) If he was having an affair it was still none of my business, but as a human being I knew and really liked his spouse from meeting at work gatherings and events and couldn’t help but feel bad about the possibility that there was an affair and their marriage was on the rocks. My coworker basically had to start a rumor about himself that he had an open marriage. All of these facts are none of my business, and not things that I need or want to know about my coworker, and it was very distracting because other people would ask me if I had seen something he had done, did I think someone should speak to him, poor spouse what about them, etc. I’ll also add that a lot of people older than me (50s+) had not heard of / do not understand the concept of open marriages, so having to explain that to a sweet older lady I work with who asked me what that meant was painful.

      There are literally millions of people in the world, please just have your open relationship with someone who does not work with you.

  11. Yup*

    Ugh. Tough one.

    Personally, I think you have three questions to consider. (1) Is it true? This could be an unsubstantiated rumor, an accurate statement of fact, a mischaracterization of a platonic friendship, a spiteful attempt to throw the candidate under the bus — you name it. Please be circumspect in considering the source, the target, and the implications, especially since this is the first you’ve heard anything about it. (2) In your personal opinion, is it relevant information if true? There will be a huge spread of opinions on this – whether it’s a sign of bad character or an aberration in otherwise sterling behavior, whether it pertains to the work that needs to be done in the position or is purely a personal matter, etc. So you need to think carefully about where you personally fall on this, in general and with this particular situation. You’re allowed to feel differently about it than the person who brought it up, or the other people on the committee, or whatever. (For me personally, if it were true, the fact of the infidelity alone is less important than a ton of other details. For you, it might be straight up binary yes/no.) And (3) how’s the rest of their candidacy? How do you view them with and without this piece? Are they a stellar candidate and this the one potential area of concern? Were they middle of the pack anyway, and this piece is just extra data? Think about the candidate minus this piece first, and then with this piece, and figure out how you view the individual components of their candidacy in part and as a whole.

    I’ve (accidentally and unwillingly) encountered at least ten workplace affairs over my professional life so I feel like I have perspective on the emotional charge with this question. I feel for you, because it’s just a lousy place to be. Good luck to you in your decision making.

    1. Joey*

      How does that go?

      “We like your qualifications, but we’re missing one relevant piece of info. Are you faithful to your wife?”

        1. some1*

          I think Joey is asking how are they realistically supposed to find out if it’s true. If the candidate denies it, but the Hiring person doesn’t believe him, then what?

          1. Yup*

            Ah. Well, the logical place to start would be the person would brought it up, no? Go ask them privately to explain their assertion, and figure out whether you believe them. If yes, consider talking to the candidate privately like Elizabeth @ 12.38 said above.

      1. Anonymous*

        It goes like this:

        “It was brought to our attention that you may be having a relationship with married co-worker A. We didn’t go looking for this info and while we don’t often get involved with what employees do in their private lives, because we have been made aware of it and it involves a co-worker, we have some concerns”.

        1. Joey*

          And this is a perfectly reasonable response:”I’m not sure what my private relationships have to do with a promotion, but I can assure you if I were seeing someone at work I would never engage in any inappropriate behavior at work. Unfortunately I can’t control if coworkers see me outside of work or over hear private conversations and decide to share their assumptions about me with co workers.”

          1. Anonymous*

            I agree, that’s a reasonable response. The company may feel differently – they may not want any relationships, whether people are married or single. Or they may smile and nod when you say that but privately decide that being involved with a married person means you aren’t trustworthy. You can never predict how people will react to things. I think it’s fine for them to ask and fine for the employee to answer how ever they see fit.

  12. tango*

    Ah I know of a situation like this. And it was true. Both parties were married (and the female had a small child in daycare) so basically daytime hours were the only time they could meet. One was a much more senior position but not in the other persons direct chain of command. They tried to be discreet but it became obvious to the fact that people started talking -even at the lowest level. The junior person left the company and accepted another job. Where she then would call in sick or say she was working at home to her new employer and then meet her lover at hotels during work hours. He’d tell his people he had a meeting at “corporate” and take off work too. Sure, shows really good judgement to drive your company provided vehicle, consuming company paid gas across town so you can spend 3-4 hours with your girlfriend in a hotel while your company is paying you to be working. Long story short, it wasn’t long before his reputation at that company tanked. His wife found out, they got divorced and he left that company and it took him months to find a new job even though he was very experienced in a very specific niche market. All I thought is maybe people talked within the industry and that burned some bridges. And his lover? She stayed married but broke up with her lover. It seemed the more senior person was the one who really took the hit.

    1. some1*

      This happened at my old workplace. The guy was a widower and a manager and the woman was an employee in a different dept who was married (we didn’t know it at the time, but she was married in name only). They were openly seeing each other (people saw them holding hands near the office, he had a pic of her in his office).

      She got divorced, they announced their engagement and he was laid off a week later.

      1. The IT Manager*

        I think half of this situation’s problem is that “she was married in name only,” but it sounds like the office didn’t know this. Maybe she was married in reality and didn’t spread the news of the break up which seems like none of their business until she starts dating someone in the office which makes it look like she;s cheating on her husband.

        1. some1*

          Exactly. We knew she was married, but she didn’t share any details about her marriage with anyone at work. So when people started seeing them together, it looked like she was cheating on her spouse, because we didn’t know that he didn’t care.

  13. The IT Manager*

    Hmmm. I’m torn in that I do think it is worth taking into account the affair for all of the character, honesty, and discretion issues plus as mentioned in the letter itself good judgement. But I don’t like the idea that it might be the offices’ job to try to confirm or deny the rumor.

    I will fall back into my past experience in the military. Fraternization was a big concern and the appearance of impropriety was enough to get someone in trouble. The fact that it appears people in the office* that this prominent manager/supervisor is enagaged in an extramaritail affair with the co-worker is enought to know him/her out of the running.

    *at least double check that this is not a personal vendetta by the person who said something.

    Personally I was imaging the person up for promotion as a man so I think would apply these same “moral” judgements to a man and a woman equally.

    1. Mike C.*

      If the conflict of interest policies are stated and well known as such, I think this is a fair way to go about it.

  14. BCW*

    Another problem is what if you ask them and they deny it? Do you just assume they are lying about it, or take them at their word? I mean, anyone who believed it in the first place and had a problem with it probably still won’t believe them and won’t respect them. So then are you just saying that because of the suspicion they should be out of the running? Its too many “what ifs” in my opinion to even take it into consideration. The only way I could see it being a factor that should be considered is if you found them having sex in a supply closet or something, at which point they probably weren’t a serious candidate anyway.

    1. Joey*

      Exactly. And I bet its for not for a job related reason, correct?. It’s because you disagree with their lifestyle, right?

      1. ThursdaysGeek*

        Not necessarily. As Katie the Fed said above “When a jilted spouse shows up to work, when a spouse calls to find out if his wife left with so-and-so, someone wants to know where someone else is – it drags other people into it.” The infidelity can affect others and their work negatively, and that is a job related reason.

        1. TL*

          Okay, but something like 40% of marriages have had someone cheat and the majority of those don’t involve any work drama.

          Being indiscrete enough to flagrantly cheat at work is probably not a good indication of a drama-less situation, but if it was found out or suspected because of chance outside-work meetings, I wouldn’t take it as an indicator of potential work drama.

      2. The IT Manager*

        Because someone deceitful enough to cheat on a spouse might just be untrustworthy/deceitful in work activities as well.

        There’s some gray areas (open relationship, in process of divorce, etc), but in the most basic and common understanding of an affair the cheater is deceiving their spouse. And that deceit might well generate distractions to an employee like angry, vengeful spouse showing up at work, messy divorce distracting him/her from work, etc.

        To be fair, someone who did no wrong in a relationship, might still end up with a crazy, raving ex showing up at work.

        1. Joey*

          Isn’t a similar scenario possible for a single employee dating more than one people at the same time? Would you disqualify a single person because that same scenario might come up?

          1. The IT Manager*

            Good Lord, you’re splitting hairs! If a single person was thought to be monogamous and cheating then it could be just as damaging to their reputation as a married person. There are definitely levels of dating “seriousness” for lack of a better word than marriage in it most common form doesn’t have. Appearance of impropriety…

            In general I am not fond of duplicitous people who cheat on their significant other/spouse and mislead them into believing that they are his/her one and only romantic relationship. If they want to break up and find someone new, they should break up first before starting the new relationship.

            1. Joey*

              My point is that scenario is unlikely and no more likely than it would be for a single person. And i can’t imagine it being held against a single person. It’s almost like you feel like its society’s job to punish him for his possible infidelity.

              1. The IT Manager*

                It’s almost like you feel like its society’s job to punish him for his possible infidelity.

                No. You’re wrong about that.

        2. TL*

          Like, I said above, cheating is really, really common. About 50% of people (and about 40% of marriages) will cheat in at least one relationship.

          I don’t think it’s a good measure of your working ability or even your ethical/moral stances. It’s too common and too varied to be so black and white.

  15. David*

    I’m a little surprised (and oddly annoyed) by the number of people trying to excuse this by wondering if this might be a relationship resulting from two open marriages.

    Frankly, who cares?

    Let’s say that the person up for the promotion isn’t having an affair with a co-worker but instead is a furry (as part of sexual play). And when it comes time to consider their candidacy, someone brings up “Hey…did you know Frank is a furry?” Now, I couldn’t care less whether or not Frank is a furry, but the very fact that his co-workers know that Frank is a furry is extremely disconcerting. Why? Because none of his co-workers should know what Frank does in the privacy of his own bedroom, dressed as an angry beaver or not! That his co-workers do know about this shows that Frank is probably revealing a little too much about his personal life and likely exhibiting bad judgement! So for me, it comes down to a situtation that reveals his poor judgement, not necessarily relatively poor morals.

    And aside from cases where this is someone spreading this rumor as a vendetta, I agree with IT Manager: the appearance is enough, whether or not it’s true. If a person isn’t able to protect/manage/be aware of his or her own reputation to the point that his potentially having an affair with a co-worker is actually being brought up when a promotion is considered, I’m not sure that’s the kind of person I would be granting more responsibility too.

    Call me old fashioned. Call me a hard-a**, but put in this position, this guy would be out of the running.

      1. AWill*

        I’m pretty much on the same page. Perception is incredible important and unfortunately sometimes more important than truth. If I worked under a manager that I thought was having an affair, I would have a very hard time respecting them and I really don’t think I’d be the only one. If this candidate is going to be in a supervisory role and already has rumors flying at this point, I’d be very concerned about his ability to gain and keep the respect of his team and lead effectively. I’m not going to put someone in a supervisory position when I already know that people have doubts about their judgement and their respectability and they haven’t even been hired yet.

    1. BCW*

      As I’ve said many times, I don’t care either way if they are best for the job. However, my problem is the perception with a lack of facts. Sure in your furry example, they are sharing a lot, and it can be easily shown that “James told me he is a furry”, which I agree is over sharing. However, people have very active imaginations. I’ve had female co-workers that I became close with, and yes, people thought we were dating, even though we weren’t. So if these 2 married people are in this position of being judged by the rumor mill, its not really fair. You can’t necessarily manage a false reputation, because people will believe what they want. So unless you are saying that a guy and a girl can’t be friends in a work place, I don’t know how you expect this to be managed.

    2. Joey*

      No ones excusing it. Were just saying it has no relevance to how good the candidate is. If you think I’m wrong then why don’t you ask everyone if they’re faithful in every interview?

      1. Katie the Fed*

        Hiring managers take into consideration a lot of information beyond what’s discussed in the interview. That’s one of the benefits of hiring internal candidates. I’d also like to know if someone has atrocious people skills, questionable hygiene, texts during meetings, etc. All are good to know.

        1. Joey*

          All the things you listed are relevant to work? How is whether or not you are faithful to your spouse relevant to how well you’ll perform?

          Don’t tell me its a sign of honesty unless you are also willing to say its a good idea to ask everyone about their fidelity as well?

          1. Katie the Fed*

            You’re missing the point that cheating on your spouse is a totally different animal than cheating on your spouse with a married coworker.

            1. Joey*

              How? Are you saying its wrong to sleep with someone who is separated from their spouse just like you?

              Unless you know the truth its reckless to draw negative conclusions.

              1. Katie the Fed*

                One is in the office. The other is not in the office. If you’re cheating with someone in the office, you’re making it your coworkers’ business and that demonstrates bad judgment.

                1. Joey*

                  That’s crazy. You could say the same about two co-workers getting a divorce. Some people believe divorce is immoral and if people find out it’s now bad judgement?

                  The only difference is that more people agree that cheating is immoral.

                2. Karen*

                  Joey, with all due respect, you don’t seem to be grasping our point. You seem to just be reactively bringing up a variety of activities that people consider immoral, and saying that we can’t screen for all of them.

                  People do all sorts of immoral things that coworkers may not agree with. The question here is whether or not those things affect the workplace.

                  A person cheating on their spouse with someone NOT in their workplace does not affect the workplace. Neither does divorce, being a bad parent, being a polygamist, being a bad tipper, or whatever behaviors the average person would scoff at.

                  But a person engaged in a relationship with someone at work (whether either party is married or not)? That undoubtedly affects the workplace.

                  Your prior points about this being hard to verify are certainly correct. But if it were verifiable, there IS a problem here. It’s not the cheating, but rather the inter-office relationship.

                3. AnotherAlison*

                  Not to be obtuse, but I’m having a hard time seeing why an extramarital affair in the workplace has any more affect on the workplace than two single coworkers dating, when other factors are not in play –“other factors” being the other spouse working there, the reporting relationships, bringing the spouse to events where the girlfriend is, and personal judgement by coworkers/gossip.

                  People have given examples of a vendor bringing it up, or what-if-they-all-go-to-the-Christmas party. That’s bad judgement, and could happen, but no one said it had in this case.

                  Bottom line is many affairs are between coworkers — the ones you know about and the ones you don’t. If no one can verify this relationship beyond gossip and rumors, I don’t think the candidate in question is making everyone uncomfortable. They’re doing it to themselves. If the moral judgement is the interference with work, I don’t see it here in this case with what we’ve been told.

                  (Now, my 4th grade teacher had an affair with the other 4th grade teacher’s husband, who was the school psychologist. That was a doozy and had a HUGE impact on the workplace, but had the spouse not also worked there, I can’t see other than the gossip and judgement how the workplace would have been impacted.)

                4. Karen*

                  AnotherAlison – you’re not being obtuse, IMO. I think that any relationship between coworkers shows poor judgement, and can result in a lot of unpleasantness in the workplace. All the usual things can happen – favoritism, inappropriate behavior, and then all the fallout when the couple breaks up. That is the issue here, and that is why the person in question is demonstrating poor judgement.

                  I think the fact that they are married adds an extra layer of “eww” factor for the average person, but it really shouldn’t be relevant, due to all the other ‘what ifs’ people previously mentioned.

              2. A Dispatcher*

                In the same way it must be reckless to reconsider a potential hire based on a bad reference? The former employer may have a vendetta against the candidate, the candidate may have been having personal issues at the time they have since overcome, the former manager may just be an idiot. How is one to know the truth? Should we absolutely give the candidate the benefit of the doubt because any of those what-ifs could be true?

                The candidate in OP’s situation may be in an open marriage. They may be separated. The whole thing may be false. The OP may never know.

                We can do a million what ifs and crazy apples-to-oranges examples, but it doesn’t change the fact that this type of information is something a hiring committee may look at and factor into the decision.

          2. AnotherAlison*

            Joey – I’m with you on this. I’ve known too many people personally whose affairs were a sign of a flaw in their relationship, not of their character and moral judgement. Some people are serial cheaters with questionable morals, but this happens to so many “normal” people as their long-term marriages and relationships are unraveling that you’ll never know about that. I am no therapist with stats, but anecdotely, this is how almost all long-term marriages I’ve seen end, ended.

            1. A Cita*

              Likewise. I think it’s a huge jump to infer major character flaws from this type of behavior. And I’ve seen what you’ve seen: marriages (and relationships) run their course and it many times takes an affair to actually end it. Obviously not ideal, but it happens. A lot. With good people.

          3. KellyK*

            There are lots of things you would take into consideration if they were brought to your attention that you wouldn’t necessarily ask about in an interview or directly go looking for. “Should I ask about this?” and “Now that I’m aware of this, what do I do about it?” are two different questions.

            For example, if someone’s Facebook page was full of profanity-ridden screeds that make their employer look bad (and they have their real name and employer listed), would you say that should just be ignored, unless the company wants to look over everyone’s Facebook page before they’re hired?

    3. Mints*

      What if it’s not a vendetta, and people are just gossipy? I’ve become platonic friends with coworkers that might have looked like a relationship to nosy people (riding in cars together, making weekend plans). Nosy Nellies can share facts that seem inappropriate out of context (did you see that Mints got a ride from Guy)
      I think the way the candidate handles it is more important than what’s actually happening (affair, open relationship, platonic friendship)
      If they ask, and the candidate shuts it down in a professional way, that’s the most important thing

    4. fposte*

      Except we do have a reasonable idea of what most of our coworkers do in their bedrooms–they have sex there. Individually, collectively, nakedly, clothedly, whatever. I suspect some of the disquiet here comes from the fact that we don’t actually like to think about that, so affairs and kinks disturbingly remind us of the sexuality of people we really don’t want to think of in sexual terms.

      Furries are kind of the Comic Sans of the sexual spectrum in that nobody wants to defend them and they’re an easy go-to. But there’s no logical reason why somebody’s being a furry in his bedroom should make him worse at most jobs.

        1. Mike C.*

          Remember: accidents in the back seat cause kids, and kids in the back seat cause accidents.

          Which is why I drive a coupe. :)

    5. some1*

      “That his co-workers do know about this shows that Frank is probably revealing a little too much about his personal life and likely exhibiting bad judgement!”

      Or that his co-workers found out another way.

      I agree, if someone is going on and on about their personal life at work it shows a lack of judgement and discretion. I work with an over-sharer who’s personal life I wish I didn’t know about.

      But you can’t assume that because two co-workers are having an affair that it’s because they are telling their co-workers about it.

    6. Mike C.*

      You do realize that in this day and age people make a sport out of exposing the private lives of others, right? Have you ever heard of doxxing?

  16. Brett*

    Also have to consider how much of this is based on marital status. E.g. would two single employees be in the same situation.

    Marital status discrimination is not forbidden in all situations by federal law (but is forbidden in some situations), but can cross over easily into gender discrimination and is specifically forbidden on its own in more than half the states, but with widely different interpretations. Though take note of Hope International University v Superior Court, a California case, that involved a perceived (not actual) affair: “On that point there is no evidence that Hope cares at all whether its professors are married, single, or divorced, just as long as they are not perceived by its students to be committing adultery or fornication.”

    1. sunny-dee*

      My guess is marriage makes it worse because of the fidelity, trust, and integrity issues — but the situation could still be bad if they were dating.

      In my contracting days, I got a one-year contract with my brother’s employer — but they had a separate round of interviews with both me and my brother to ensure that we wouldn’t have problems working together and we had to sign some waivers and an agreement that neither would ever be manager of the other. In fact, the fact we were related was almost enough for me to lose the contact (even though they told me I was the strongest candidate). So, a drama-free familial relationship is a serious enough issue for people to consider in hiring. A very much drama-filled, double-adulterous, inter-office relationship? Yes, I can see that being a legitimate consideration.

  17. Briggs*

    I find myself wondering … how credible is the person who brought this up? How do they know? Was that source credible? Do they possibly have a reason to want this candidate out of the running?

    Personally, I’d question this person first to find out how likely it is that this is even true and also find out why he feels it’s something that he needed to discuss in that meeting. You might have a better feel for whether or not you need to have a conversation with the (potentially cheating) candidate.

  18. Anonymous*

    If this affair made headlines tomorrow, would it affect your company or not? If an affair is immaterial to the position, then move on. If the affair is material to the job, then you’ll have to ask the candidate and the co-worker about it, decide whether they’re telling the truth or lying, and make a decision (hugely messy – sucks to be on a hiring committee).

  19. AnotherAlison*

    To me, the only part of this that would be relevant is whether the company had a policy against coworkers dating.

    I hate cheaters, too. I’m quite experienced with the situation in my family-0f-origin. But, having been with my own spouse for 17 years, and watched numerous relationships of our friends crumble, often due to affairs (or at least affairs being the end-game), I am no longer passing judgement on others. It seems like long-term realtionships often simply run their course, and no one has the balls to end them until something like an affair happens. I certainly wouldn’t call someone’s professional judgement into question based on the rumor of an affair, with no context or facts.

    As for the issue of letting everyone find out. . .it could be that someone was stopping by someone else’s desk all the time. They could just be platonic friends and that started the rumor. I guess married men and women can’t have close friendships, or all close friendships should be kept out of the office, lest any rumors be started.

    1. jmkenrick*

      Yeah, I sort of agree here…I think the nature of the relationship (straight, gay, unfaithful, whatever) is irrelevant. But how they handle it might be. If the company requires disclosure of relationship – and many do – then following those procedures can be expected of someone who wants a promotion.

      If the company expects that you limit your socializing with coworkers during the workday, and they’re going overboard – then you can deal with that.

      But unless your workspace is a church, I’m not sure it’s necessary to comment on the nature of the relationship, just any issues that might be resulting from it.

    2. Karen*

      I agree with you regarding affair rumors getting started really easily. In my own workplace, all a man and a woman have to do is be seen eating lunch together a few times for a rumor to start. It’s really a shame.

  20. Anonymous*

    Ugh office affairs are the worst. At my last job the (married) CEO was clearly having an affair with a (married) manager and they did not try at all to hide it. It was obvious even outside of the company – one of our vendors happened to talk to them at an event we put on, and he referred to the manager as the CEO’s girlfriend, not knowing any of the story! I don’t care what anyone does in their private time but please keep it out of the office. I lost a lot of respect for both of them when she was promoted to Director – she was nice but not super competent so it was pretty obvious why she was promoted.

    1. fposte*

      That’s a great example of what I mean about complicity in deceit. Don’t date anybody at work who couldn’t be referred to openly by your co-workers as your girlfriend or boyfriend.

  21. Karen*

    I think the key here is that the affair is occurring with someone else in the office. If the person is a philanderer on their own time, with someone they don’t work with, it’s not the office’s business.

    But if they are (verifiably) having an affair with a coworker, then they have poor judgement, whether they’re married or not. Not something you want in someone moving to a higher position.

    1. Joey*

      Id say the person divulging the gossip is the one with poor judgement because:

      1. They probably don’t know it to be true.
      2. They believe gossip is credible.
      3. They somehow think infidelity is an indicator of poor job performance.

    2. BCW*

      Even that to me is a problem. Either you are morally against it and question their judgment because they are having an affair or you think they are the right person for the job. To say that it depends on who the affair is with is a bit ridiculous to me. I have a personal example. My uncle was divorcing his wife, but it was getting very dragged out (it was a very dysfunctional relationsihp). He started dating a co-worker before his marriage was officially ended. I don’t think his judgment was bad, because at this point, him and the person he was having the affair with have been together longer than the original wife, and they are very happy. He is also very successful in his job, and luckily he was able to move up without the judgmental folks and morality police trying to block it.

      1. Karen*

        Again, this isn’t about policing morality. It’s not about who is married, or even that they are cheating.

        If two single people were having a relationship at work, the same problem arises, and the response to whether or not one should be promoted should be the same.

        If you don’t think that an inter-office relationship is a bad idea due to the fact that it can create an situation of awkwardness, favoritism, and eventually unpleasantness once the relationship dissolves, then I suspect we’ll never agree on the case in point.

        1. Guest*

          I agree with Karen. Even if both people are single, one or both may be judged harshly for fishing in the company pool. It doesn’t show the best judgment. Yes, people do it in this day and age. But some keep it out of the office, to the point that it’s a surprise when they announce their engagement. Others are calling each other schmoopy on conference calls three weeks into the relationship.

          People are going to get judged even more if they are presumed to have promised honesty and fidelity to someone and don’t seem to be delivering honesty or fidelity. If they’re legally separated/on their way to divorce, there’s no presumption that they’re supposed to be exclusive with their soon-to-be-ex-spouse. The spouse knows the deal then.

          The problem when the spouse (apparently) doesn’t know is that this person’s honesty and integrity are going to be questioned. If you’re lying to the person you’ve exchanged vows with, that doesn’t exactly scream trustworthiness. “Cheating” and “affair” are loaded words, because they imply that there’s an injured spouse out there, whether they know about the affair or not.

          If you’re going to sleep with someone other than the person you are married to, and you don’t want it to affect how you are perceived at your job, then you need to be so discreet that no one at your workplace knows or ever finds out. Even if that means not sending each other flirty emails, taking long lunches with each other, or holding hands in some dive bar two hours away from the office.

        2. BCW*

          Wow. Thats very narrow minded of you then. I mean, if you are honestly saying that if any 2 consenting adults happen to work at the same place and date, that you would consider not promoting one of them (assuming they wouldn’t be the other person’s direct supervisor) simply because you think it shows poor judgment, then yes, I can see no middle ground we can have.

          1. Amanda*

            Same here.

            But then again, I’m glad my parents used “poor judgement” in dating co-workers since I, you know, appreciate existing.

            And their “lack of good judgement” didn’t hold either back from achieving quite a lot in their respective careers.

  22. Malissa*

    Nobody at work should know who you are sleeping with..even if it’s your own spouse. Private relationships need to stay private.
    Now in this situation you have a rumor. The employee needs the opportunity to address this rumor first hand. If it is just a rumor then there needs to be a conversation about having the ability to stay above the gossip and get work done effectively. This very well could be a case of somebody trying to sabotage the candidate because they see them as competition for this new position (or any promotion really).
    If it is true then the conversation needs to be about discretion and the ramifications of the persons actions as they relate to the work place. i.e. getting passed up for a promotion due to an apparent lack of judgement.

  23. My2Cents*

    Take a look at the culture – are there other positions comparable to this position where behavior X (in this case, an affair) is prevalent. In our organizations, there are quite a few people at the level above me (including my own boss) who are in broken/disturbed marriages. A couple of them are now divorced. This group represents a large percentage of the managers at my job. I resolved not to judge the behavior and let it affect my relationship with them – which was tough for a time.

    The only questions I might ask are about how they handle stress, gauge ethics, and prioritize things in their life.

    Draw a parallel – keep in mind some people also have affairs on their primary place of employment (moonlighting). It might be fine if they’re doing it outside of work hours and it’s not affecting their primary job (they show up and meet all expectations). However, it also might be against code of conduct depending on where you work.

    The bottom line should probably be kept at will it affect their job performance and will the environment (other people, team members, subordinates, and followers of any type) be able to continue in a successful direction? There are of course distinctions in that environment (wall street vs Chocolate Teapots vs a church vs military) that will vary the response. The Military Code of Conduct forbids affairs – so your job might be in jeopardy if you make the wrong decision. A church might lose significant membership. The others might have their own cultural response.

  24. ThursdaysGeek*

    Do talk to them!

    I once worked where a manager thought a co-worker and I were having an affair. We carpooled and ate lunch together nearly every day — he found it very suspicious. When we heard, we were both surprised. Sure, we had different last names, but we thought everyone in the small company knew we were married – to each other.

    At least he didn’t gossip — if he had, he would have quickly learned what everyone else already knew. It was never a secret, there was never any unprofessional behaviour at work, and there was no chance of us being in the same supervisory chain.

    1. jmkenrick*

      Haha! That same thing happened at my company – they weren’t married, but two workers in different departments were dating & living together.

      The finance department all knew that their colleague had a live-in girlfriend, but didn’t realize it was the girl in marketing; rumors circulated that he was cheating for months before the two caught wind of it.

      It’s a weird catch-22…they kept their personal lives out of work so that coworkers didn’t really realize they were dating (although HR knew, because they started dating before she was hired, so she gave them a heads up during the hiring process)…but it’s nearly impossible to stay that removed from people you see everyday, so they noticed the relationship and made their own assumptions!

  25. Employment lawyer*

    This particular question is highly loaded and you should probably ask your company’s employment counsel. The two most obvious issues are the risks for subsequent harassment and sex discrimination liability. But that scenario can also raise all sorts of other problems.

  26. David*

    The CEO of my large company recently shared the following story: Early in his career he worked for another company. An executive at this company was about to be promoted to CEO. My CEO played golf with this person on a regular basis, and knew that this executive was a non-stop cheat when he played. When the announcement was made that he was to be promoted, my CEO quit and came to the company he now runs. He knew there was no way that he could work for a guy that cheated at golf.

    But it wasn’t cheating at golf that did it…rather, it’s what that cheating inferred: a lack of integrity and honesty. The point is that we can learn a lot about how someone might perform in a job based on what they do outside of their job. If those activities bring into question some of the core requirements of being a successful part of the team, it’s better to err on the side of caution.

    And that company folded in two years. Meanwhile, our CEO has a reputation of honesty and integrity and is highly respected both in our industry and the community at large.

  27. Jules*

    Personally, I don’t think that it should be considered when deliberating on promotions. I care about work/business results and not much on how anyone else runs their life. That is their business. I am not here to moralize nor judge people’s life choices.

    Unless, it affects the business. I’ve heard of a manager being fired for having an affair due to the fact that in that location, people were conservative. It would cause issues if the locals feel that they cannot trust the management to be moral so to speak and they will not let any female family members work there. Ergo he got fired. I know this happens ages ago though.

  28. anon-2*

    Oh boy, do I have Dinner Table Stories on THIS topic!

    Then again, one notorious individual that I worked with — had a reputation for having affairs in the office – even while married — at one time, he had a wife, a girlfriend outside the office and one WITHIN the office!

    It didn’t impact his career – way back when. BUT — I think in this day and age, such actions would be regarded as poor judgement and lousy decision making – and would impact most peoples’ careers.

    Maybe it was the place I worked in that didn’t care about that, I dunno….

    PS anon-2 is loyal to his wife and has been for decades….

  29. Heartbroken85*

    I have read your comments, so here’s mine: I was married to a gov’t employee for 24.5 yrs. For yrs after he confessed his 1st affair w/co-worker, from another office and many miles from his home base, I always wondered if he was still being unfaithful but he always assured me it was just a mid-life crisis, at 35, and all he wants is me and our family. We were so close that we were truly “one” again. I saw many signs towards the end of our marriage but was always assured of how much he loves me. The signs were finally so visible to me that I told him he would have to take a lie detector test or start talking, if he wanted any chance of relationship with me. He started crying and confessed to affairs dating back to when our first child was just 9 mo’s old, 22 1/2 years of our 24 1/2 year marriage was a complete lie. I kicked him to the curb, it was no surprise when I learned he had a new girlfriend within a week. He refused marriage counseling because he won’t allow someone to tell him he did something wrong when he knew it was wrong when he did it. “I can’t help it, it’s just who I am and it’s who I’m going to be.” He said all of the affairs were with govt employees, I know for sure that 2 were superiors to him. We’ve been divorced almost 2 years now and after losing my job and being in bed for the last 3 years from depression and many illnesses brought on by stress, I clearly see him for the con man he really is. He has always assured me the govt doesn’t care what he does after hours. I have a few stories, that can be easily verified, of things that occurred during their after hour parties, one actually included an arrest that was covered up! I’m so glad I found this article, time to see an attorney and contact OPM! I wonder how many of you have been with my ex. If so, watch for your name to come up, hopefully you’ll get a little piece of what you deserve. also.

  30. Just-a-curmudgeon*

    Well here is an interesting situation! The head (female) of a department at a major institution (that’s as vague as I can make it) was the very close friend of a woman who worked in the same department; my husband also worked in this department. These two women were his friends, and I met them when they visited him during his last illness. Very nice women. So, just hours before he died, a few months ago, my husband told me he was having an affair with the head-of department’s friend. Not knowing that the affair has been revealed to me, head of department writes me a very long email one day after my husband’s death, telling me that her close friend and my husband had a “very special” relationship. By the way the close friend was my husband’s long-time assistant. OK, here comes the ethics part of it: the head of the department wanted to recommend her close friend for a specific commendation (she included this in her email to me about the “very special” relationship), but felt that her own vote would look biased, so…she planned to try again, as she had tried the year previously, to get her friend this award, this time by telling everyone in the office that the close friend had received a posthumous recommendation from my husband (i.e. the other workers take it on the head’s word (since my husband is dead) that he recommended close -friend-of-head for the commendation. Head then wants to know what I think? I wrote her back saying that since her friend had been intimate with my husband, there was surely a conflict of interest situation and to infer his posthumous recommendation was unethical. What amazes me is that this adult workers in her fifties seemed to have no sense of how unethical this type of recommendation would be. Of course head didn’t know that I knew of the affair when she told me of her plan, but presumably she knew of the affair, and presumably thought none of this behavior objectionable!
    Obviously a commendation isn’t as serious a matter as a promotion, and from all I know, close-friend-of-head is/was a very capable person at her job. What this shows to me, though, is how people get locked into their little worlds, forget about the rest of the world outside, and when someone in that circumstance acquires some authority, they develop a sense of entitlement that blinds them to ethical values. Where I live this often seems to be the case with people who consider themselves to be politically correct and on a mission, therefore they are superior to the rest of us, and the rules don’t apply to them, whether it be adultery or favoritism or conflict of interest. OK, end of rant. That’s my 2 cents.

  31. Kassy*

    I would definitely make room for that “if it’s not true.” My husband bears some resemblance to one of my coworkers, and the curious don’t have the clearest of views through a car window.

Comments are closed.