a DNA test revealed the CEO is my half brother … and he’s freaking out

A reader writes:

My dad gave the whole family DNA ancestry kits for the holidays, and it turns out the CEO of the company I work for is my half-brother.

Dad’s not the kind of guy to gift everyone DNA kits as a way of telling us he had a secret love child, so I don’t think he knew he had another kid. We’re all grown-ups and know where babies come from and that things aren’t always what we expect, so I have a feeling this is a shock to everyone. The CEO’s company bio says he’s a “proud Texan, born and raised.” Dad was stationed in Texas ten years before he met and married my mother. The timeline all fits and so do the genes, I guess.

None of my siblings have initiated contact and neither has Dad.

I’ve met the CEO a few times but he works out of the corporate headquarters across the country from the smaller division where I work. About a week after I got my results, an email went out from the head of HR stating that all staff had to take a refresher training on nepotism. The training also included a new clause that said something like “staff are not entitled to privileges personal or professional if familial relation by genes or marriage to executive or management staff is known or unknown or discovered during employment.” Other than being clunky verbiage, I felt like it was aimed at me. I found out no other branch had to retake the nepotism training and the email only came to our office. My manager later pulled me in personally to ask if I had any questions about the policy. She was vague and uncomfortable, and I said I wanted to know why nobody else was brought in 1:1 to talk about the policy and why no other branch had to do the training. She just kind of ignored the question and said she was just following instructions, so now I think this was aimed at me.

I’m happy to drop the whole thing. I’m sure he feels as uncomfortable as I do about this, but to weaponize HR and make my coworkers waste a whole day on mandatory training just to put up a boundary seems messed up. A simple personal email of “Hey, I saw this. I don’t know what to make of it. Please give me space and don’t bring it to work” would have sufficed. Even ignoring it would have been fine by me too since I wasn’t sure I wanted to be the one to initiate a conversation about this without having talked to my dad first. Dad has gotten his results back, obviously, and he’s avoiding the conversation. This is a big elephant in the room made a little harder by the fact that I work for this guy.

What bothers me the most is that weaponizing HR with the intent to make sure I know not to ask for perks feels messed up. I’ve been with the company for five years and have a great reputation. At least I did. What do I do?

I wrote back to this letter-writer and asked, “To make sure I understand, would the CEO have been alerted to these results too, and been able to see your name and connected it to you? Is the company small enough that he’d even make that connection?

Yeah, the company is about 200 full-time employees mostly in our two states. He follows a lot of employees on LinkedIn and I’m in a marketing role so my team is in touch with corporate a lot. I’ve only met him in person a few times, but some projects bring me in close proximity to him and his direct staff. The DNA test has an app, and you get notifications regularly via email and I think push notifications on your phone if you opt-in. I have no way of knowing what he opted into, so I assumed he didn’t know until the weird training.

He has now blocked me on LinkedIn and all social media, and has blocked all my siblings and my parents. I think the jig is up. How do I make sure my job is secure?

Oh no. What a situation.

And what a reaction from the CEO! I mean, yes, this is awkward, but to handle it via a nepotism training targeting only your office and pointedly remind you that you’re not entitled to any special privileges (including “if a familial relation … is discovered during employment”?!) and then having your manager do that weird one-on-one meeting with you to make sure you didn’t have questions?

As if you were about to start demanding a raise and a promotion and your own private bathroom because you share a father. Without even talking to you first.

I don’t want to come down too hard on him because he’s obviously freaking out (and who knows, he might be reeling from learning someone he thought was his father is not his father and maybe he sees you as the walking embodiment of that) … but this is a bit bananas.

I think you’ve got two options. The first is to ignore it. Demonstrate through your very pointed lack of response and lack of requests for special treatment that nothing has changed on your side at work. Figure that maybe his frenzy of self-protective activity will die down in the next few weeks as he adjusts to the news.

The other option is to send him a note that says something like, “I want you to know this isn’t something I plan to follow up on in any way and as far as I’m concerned, it’s your private business. Please don’t worry about it coming up at work.”

The tricky thing, of course, is that a note could make things worse — now you’re confirming you got the news too and you are speaking of it, which can upset people who are working hard to forge boundaries against ever discussing a thing. Or it could make things better — if he’s been worried that you’re going to show up in his office wanting to bond as siblings or that you’ll gossip about the situation at the office, here’s assurance that you’re not. It could set him at ease. There’s no knowing.

The flip side of that is that if you ignore the whole thing, there’s no guarantee that will set him at ease either. He could remain horribly uncomfortable and look for opportunities to push you out, or might hold you back professionally. (Like if you’re up for a promotion that would have you working more closely with him, will he squash that? Will he subtly discourage others from working with you? Reveal a discomfort when your name comes up which makes other people assume there’s something unsavory about you?)

He seems so freaked out right now that personally I’d go the note route; I’d just feel better having said something. But that’s not necessarily the right course of action.

In theory, a third option could be to talk to HR and tell them you’re worried about repercussions to the CEO’s discovery. Interestingly, there’s a law that could be in play here — the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA), which prohibits employers from discriminating on the basis of genetic information, including info about an employee’s genetic tests or the genetic test of a family member. GINA would make it illegal for the CEO to fire you based on what he’s learned. HR would presumably care about that. In reality, though, if the CEO wants you gone for personal reasons, it’s probably going to happen at some point — and even if it doesn’t, there are still ways for his discomfort to harm your career, even if he doesn’t intend it to (see examples above).

Honestly, and I’m sorry to say it, I’d start putting out feelers at other companies. I’m not saying to quit tomorrow — you can give this some time and see how it plays out — but you’ve been there five years, it’s not an unreasonable time to start looking around anyway, and it wouldn’t hurt to have already done some groundwork if you do realize at some point that you’re better off moving on.

Read an update to this letter

{ 630 comments… read them below }

  1. Suzanne*

    If you have a good relationship with your manager, perhaps you could ask her to convey up the chain the message/sentiment that you would put in a note? She seems uncomfortable about the situation too, from what you wrote, but it might get the point across without being as risky as directly contacting the CEO.

    1. High Score!*

      Oh no… The more attention that OP pays to this, the more that CEO is going to freak out. I’d recommend NO calling attention to it. No notes, nothing. OP is blocked everywhere that CEO could block, CEO is clearly freaking out and sending a no contact message. OP should follow that lead and pretend it never happened. While looking for another job, just in case.

      1. T.N.H.*

        I just don’t think this will work. At the very least OP must go to HR and get something documented. Looking for another job is important, but they have to think about their reputation too. Make sure that they remind everyone of GINA (good call Alison) and then put their head down and move on at the first reasonable opportunity.

        1. Warrior Princess Xena*

          I might give it a few weeks and see if the tension is dying down. Right now there are a lot of Emotions floating around – if I abruptly discovered I had a new sibling(s), that maybe my parents weren’t my parents, and also my sibling was my subordinate, I’d probably panic too and then when nothing exploded immediately I’d relax. I agree that the CEO is maybe not making the best decisions right now, but I’d probably wait to see if they continue to make bad decisions once the initial panic has had some time to wear off.

          1. to varying degrees*

            I agree. Sure CEO did not have the best reaction and is over-reacting, but damn, if he didn’t have any idea about this (especially if his parents were together at the time) this has got to be life altering for him. I feel bad for the guy, he’s probably acting straight out of fear and confusion.

            1. JustSomeone*

              But the CEO had already done the DNA test himself, so wouldn’t he have already known most of this? Obviously the half brother is new news, but bombs about his own parentage would have been dropped back when he did his own test.

              1. Celestial Seasonings*

                Not necessarily, if the CEO’s alleged father hadn’t had a DNA test done and the genetic background (white european, or w/e) matched closely enough.

              2. Genealogist Hat On*

                Speaking from experience, not if his presumed father and other paternal relatives hadn’t tested, and the CEO hadn’t done enough genealogy to realize that he had no matches on his presumed father’s side. In the case in my family, there were no close paternal relatives who’d tested; it was only after extensive research on the relative’s on-paper paternal line that we went “huh, either nobody descending from either of these very prolific families with thousands of living descendants has tested, or….”

              3. afiendishthingy*

                He wouldn’t have known who his biological father was until OP’s father did the test. Hard to say how much else he would have been able to figure out prior.

                1. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

                  Honestly, no one in my family has done any of those tests. Not for any particular reason … mainly we just do not care. My grandparents were too old to bother with that. At best they may find a connection to a cousin, but my cousins have a lot of other cousins and it could be really hard to narrow it down. So it is totally possible that until this family gift situation came up, no close enough relatives had ever supplied a sample to any of these services.

                  My guess is that is why CEO opted in for notifications. He was looking for relatives on bio-dad’s side and did not get any hits, and so asked for notifications if any hits appeared later.

              4. Velociraptor Attack*

                Not necessarily, he may have done it but not his parents so everything could have been fine with some potential more distant relatives out there until OP and their family did their tests and suddenly you’re getting alerted to some very close familial matches.

                Any distant relatives might not have been too concerning since it can be a little weird, my sister-in-law and brother-in-law both did one of these and they’re half-siblings so when he did it, she got a notification that she had a new match that was a brother or uncle.

              5. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

                No, not if his bio-dad’s and siblings’ DNA was not in the system at the time, and no close enough relative’s DNA was in the system either. My guess is that is why the CEO opted in for notifications. He got his DNA test and got no hits for bio dad and other family, so wanted to get a notification if a later sample would match.

              1. Grammar Penguin*

                They’re not quite the same though. OP’s bombshell is “My father cheated on my mother decades ago and my siblings and I have a half-brother we didn’t know about and whom I happen to work for.” The CEO’s bombshell is “The man I’ve called my father all my life is NOT actually my father. Also, I have multiple half-siblings I didn’t know about and one of them works for me.”

                The first is a surprise, to be sure, but the second speaks to one’s own deepest sense of identity. LW at least knows her father is in fact her father.

                1. Cheap-Ass Rolls*

                  Back the truck up. This was a decade before LWs parents met. Their bombshell does not include anything denigrating about their father.

          2. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

            I agree with waiting out the initial emotional reaction. OP can go to HR if it looks like something else is going on later. And at the end of the day, even though the company cannot terminate her for the DNA test results, if they can point to or fabricate another reason to terminate her, she won’t have much recourse and probably won’t win any lawsuits either.

            In fact, I think OP should talk to a lawyer if she feels concerned enough to report to HR on the CEO and concerns he will violate GINA!

        2. Totally Minnie*

          This is actually the only thing I would do, and I wouldn’t do it until my job search was getting some traction just in case something goes south.

          Go to HR, mention GINA, and tell them that you never had any intention of taking any actions based on the genetic information you have received, but that the CEO’s actions have seemed to be targeting you for your genetic information in violation of the law.

          And then get as far away from this company as you can because this CEO has already shown you he can’t be trusted to deal fairly with you over something that was not in any way your fault.

          1. T.N.H.*

            Yup, this is it. You just can’t stake your employment and reputation on the CEO getting over it. He (maybe) broke the law and you have to cover your behind (then get out ASAP with the promise of a good reference).

          2. Cathie from Canada*

            Also, his hysterical and fearful reaction over this indicates to me that overall, his functioning and judgement as an executive are flawed. I wonder if he reacts this badly to other unexpected news or corporate problems – which isn’t good news for the company as a whole.

            1. Marianne*

              His world was rocked. I wouldn’t necessarily write the CEO and his company off for his reaction (which was admittedly not optimal). He may regain some balance given time. That said, the OP should prepare for the worst just in case.

          3. Michaela T*

            Yeah, I don’t think OP can trust the CEO’s judgement at this point. I hope everything works out.

          4. ferrina*

            And I want to underscore the mention GINA. Plenty of people aren’t aware of this, and usually it’s in the context of health insurance/health discrimination. The CEO probably isn’t even aware of this, but a competent HR would be aware of the implications, and just mentioning this might be enough to rein in the CEO and ensure that you get a decent reference.

            But as Alison says, HR won’t be able to protect career growth, and eventually the CEO will be able to find a reason to push you out. Start working toward an exit.

            1. Observer*

              but a competent HR would be aware of the implications, and just mentioning this might be enough to rein in the CEO and ensure that you get a decent reference.

              I disagree. Competent HR will be acutely aware of the nepotism implications here. And I suspect that they are going to be MUCH more worried about that than about GINA.

              1. ferrina*

                AFAIK nepotism isn’t illegal (super curious if I’m wrong).
                GINA is the law, and the company can be sued for not complying (assuming company is U.S.).

                1. Observer*

                  Well, in some cases, nepotism does present a legal problem. And it certainly is the case that if they have a nepotism policy that they actually enforce (which sounds like it’s the case) this situation presents a genuine problem. So to ignore that could lead to all sorts of issues.

                  GINA is absolutely not intended to ban nepotism policies. It’s not about who is related to whom, but about whether someone is (or perceived to be) at higher risk for various illnesses due to their genetic makeup, or that they might create higher insurance costs.

                  (And it’s not as if the CEO found out this information in way that presents a problem – the OP didn’t get tested by / for their workplace.)

                  I’ll post some links

                2. Observer*




                  From the fact sheet:
                  For example, it would be illegal for an employer to reassign an employee from a job it believes is too stressful after learning of his family medical history of heart disease.


                  GINA is essentially an expansion of HIPAA

                3. linger*

                  The message from HR is clear that there are existing, explicit company directives against nepotism, which they are obligated to enforce. From their perspective, it doesn’t matter if there are no wider laws against it.
                  On the other hand, it’s entirely possible HR haven’t yet heard of GINA — and they now need to know.

          5. middlemgmt*

            agree. no note to CEO, not at all, but definitely HR when you are on your way out so that you can have it documented.

            also, i don’t give one flying fig about the CEOs feelings about this. he forfeited that sympathy.

            1. Courageous cat*

              Lmao seriously, I’m surprised by some of these comments. No one shot his dog, he didn’t find out he had secret septuplets, like – of course it’s shocking, but it’s not the end of the gd world here. It’s super, super unprofessional to do everything he’s done and *especially* to block his own employee over this.

              Sorry, I’m gonna call it even if no one else wants to, but the CEO is frankly being an asshole and a baby about this. This is not the world’s biggest scandal and this is not how you treat your employees.

              1. Shakti*

                Depending on the situation he could have learned his entire life and family was a lie that’s pretty earth shattering and the lack of sympathy towards that is pretty unkind. It’s a type of grief and he’s handling it very poorly, but so do many people going through an intense shock. That said yes he is being cruel to lw and none of it is her fault at all

                1. spruce*

                  That is earth-shattering, but the reaction described here is extremely calculating. It takes time and energy and thought to ask HR to draft a policy, then get them to do a training on, then get a manager to have a super awkward 1:1 meeting with a very specific employee…
                  Also, what in the world did CEO tell OP’s manager ahead of that conversation? Did he reveal the entire test results, and now manager knows OP’s family history? Did he vaguely hint at something?

              2. Erma*

                I’m with you, I will never understand why some people leap to the defense of powerful people, typically powerful men, and their feelings. The CEO is being a baby.

          6. She of Many Hats*

            I’d go to HR with the concern that only one branch had to do the training and bring up that it concerns you that the branch is being targeted and how do you ensure no-one is being discriminated against regarding advancement, workload, etc since it appears that someone in this location triggered the training. The focus is that only one small part of the company had to do training that would be pertinent to the whole company regarding the updated nepotism & ethics code.

            1. MP*

              Agree. Go to HR but make it general. OP can also say that of course, if anything like that happened with them, they wouldn’t bring it to work. HR will probably escalate the message letting the CEO know how they will handle it.

          7. Momma Bear*

            This. If the CEO has gone as far as to make you specifically take training, then that indicates that he’s taking personal business to work. HE is making it awkward. You know why, even if HR wants to hedge. Get it on record in case he retaliates further.

            And then dust off your resume and get out.

            1. Laura*

              Absolutely this – my only thought in this instance would be to go to HR immediately – CEO has already made this personal and affected the OP’s working environment. Sympathies to him for the bombshell news, but unprofessional is unprofessional and he’s targeting an employee.

              Sentiment of the note should be brought up TO HR. OP was never going to bring this to work and its private business of the CEO, but the CEO has singled him out for a non-work issue that wasn’t his fault at all. CEO has effed up here, big time.

        3. Starbuck*

          Yes, OP should do something to express that they’re not wanting special treatment – they’re concerned about being *retaliated against* based on this awkward family news and just want the same neutral treatment they’d been getting all along up until now! Super not ok.

          1. lyonite*

            From the CEO’s reaction, I almost wonder if he was worried about the OP blackmailing him or something! Which would obviously be nonsensical, but if he’s someone who puts a lot of emphasis on heritage, etc, he might see it as a possibility. Regardless, he’s handling it terribly and HR needs to get OP’s side of the story.

        4. Curmudgeon in California (they/them)*

          I might send HR a note about GINA, telling them that “Of course, I expect that the company will abide by this, even though some of us may have received genetic testing news that was surprising.”

          Genes do not create a relationship, especially these days.

          1. Observer*

            Genes do not create a relationship, especially these days.

            No, but they can create perceptions and legal issues.

            1. BubbleTea*

              I’m interested in knowing more about the legal issues – my child is donor conceived and as far as I know, the only faintly possible legal issue would be that he’s not allowed to marry any of his diblings.

        5. Ellie*

          I’d go to HR, and I’m the type to avoid HR at all costs. The CEO has made it very clear that he is not going to handle this professionally, and OP needs to get out in front of this and protect their reputation.

          OP – I’d recommend starting your job search today. At the same time, you should consult a lawyer, and then either have them send a letter to the company, or else approach HR yourself (whichever the lawyer recommends). You will likely need to outline why you are concerned about retaliation, that you are an innocent victim in all of this, and that you want to be left alone. If things become unbearable, or you’re confident in your job hunt, you might also want to consider negotiating some severance and a positive reference, and just leaving immediately.

          I am really sorry this is happening to you, it isn’t fair at all.

      2. Czhorat*

        The problem is that the CEO has taken notice, and the push for anti-nepotism training is hinting to me that there is a new ceiling for LW’s career with this company; if the CEO is blocking you across social media, then they’ve noticed you. That’s not a good thing if it isn’t for positive reasons.

        The CEO has clearly given local management hints of his discomfort with you. That means that your boss is very unlikely to stick his neck out to offer you promotions, large raises, or even higher-visibility project work (if that’s the kind of company it is).

        It sucks, but it might be time to move on.

        1. Artemesia*

          It is pretty clear that EVERYONE knows i.e. HR and the manager etc as they implement this policy. I have no idea what the OP should do but they do need to protect themselves and they need to figure out how to get out of there. Wow.

          1. ferrina*

            Manager might not know. HR might have given the manager a cryptic message along the lines of “oh, just make sure LW knows. And let me know when you’ve specifically talked to LW”.

            Manager is extremely trustworthy, then I’d be tempted to tell Manager what’s going on. But considering Manager hasn’t been proactively defending LW, calling out the weird behavior in any way, or applying the rules evenly, like pulling in everyone for 1:1s), then I wouldn’t trust them to be discrete or handle the information well.

            1. Czhorat*

              The CEO issued a new reminder that the nepotism policy includes those who discover a familial relationship post-hire and made a point that LW in particular were told.

              The manager might not know *exactly*, but even the most ploddingly literal-minded employee can probably extrapolate something close to the truth from these data points.

              1. 1LFTW*

                Agreed. It feels a lot like “Our nepotism policy has been updated due to A Certain Worker. For privacy’s sake, let’s call them ‘Lisa S. … no, wait, that’s too obvious. Better make that ‘L. Simpson’”.

            2. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

              I think there is just as good of a chance that Manager was uncomfortable because she knew the request was really weird but does not know what led to it as it is that she knows the background. It would be really uncomfortable in either scenario.

          2. Fluffy Initiative*

            I don’t know if it’s possible that *everyone* knows, but the CEO is certainly doing his best to “Streisand effect” the whole situation.

        2. Smithy*

          This is where I fall.

          I’m sure there are plenty of industries that really do utilize “here today, gone tomorrow” – but if you step back and acknowledge that yours is one that more or less pushes people out and/or caps their level achievements so that they get frustrated and leave on their own…..then I think this a case of taking the time to be upset, and then look for a new job. The OP has this gift of likely not being fired tomorrow (cause of GINA) but 6-18 months can be a good chunk of time for a leisurely job hunt. Or a leisurely way to find a better reason to let someone go legally.

      3. Cmdrshpard*

        “but it might get the point across without being as risky as directly contacting the CEO.”

        I agree, talking to people to send it up the chain would seem to the exact kind of action the CEO is worried about in terms of spreading the news about the results and the situation.

        OP’s boss might have just been told to do x and not informed why, so if OP says it is because we are half siblings that is opening a big can of worms.

        1. High Score!*

          I’d just follow the CEO’s lead and pretend it didn’t happen while job searching for a back up opportunity. BUT, IF you must say something to someone, I’d just go to HR & mention GINA and not say who you’re related to although they probs already know but by not telling, you are sending a message that you will keep it to yourself.

          1. RVA Cat*

            Excellent point. That is the best way to cover yourself – and have evidence to sue if necessary.
            It’s a good idea to talk with an employment lawyer about this. Sounds like what we have here is a conflict between ethics around nepotism and GINA. I hate to say, but maybe the best outcome is a negotiated layoff with severance, good references and the eligibility for rehire when the CEO leaves.

        2. Suzanne*

          That’s a good point – I suppose I was operating under the assumption that everyone kinda knew but wasn’t saying anything about it, but I can see how that could definitely not be the case. In any case, I agree that ultimately OP probably needs to look for another job elsewhere.

        3. Artemesia*

          the CEO has already directly targeted the OP and made others aware — e.g. the one on one scolding. No good outcome here; she needs to protect herself legally as best she can.

          1. High Score!*

            Going to HR & mentioning GINA does this. She doesn’t have to say who to bring it to HR’s attention. That doesn’t legally protect her but it lets them know that she knows her rights. Getting the names of some local employment lawyers she can call if the worst happens is a good idea

          2. Cmdrshpard*

            I think “the one on one scolding.” is a mischaracterization of what happened.

            OP was brought into a one on one to check in if they had any questions.

            “My manager later pulled me in personally to ask if I had any questions about the policy…..She just kind of ignored the question and said she was just following instructions, so now I think this was aimed at me.”

            OP was not scolded, OP may feel scolded but that is not what happened. At least not from how they have relayed the issue/meting.

            I have been in tons of meeting where a coworker comes out and says something like “Ugh I hate getting yelled at.” and I think what in the world are you talking about we/you did not get yelled at, we talked about what went wrong and how to do things better but we never got yelled at.

            1. Some words*

              It’s not unreasonable for someone to feel “scolded” in this circumstance. Being singled out for managerial attention with the obvious intention to make sure the employee knows they’re probably going to be under a microscope from now on would make many of us more than a little itchy.

      4. Aggretsuko*

        Yeah, this. If the CEO was behaving remotely sanely I would also want to write a note, but literally he’s blocking OP on everything.

        OP is probably losing their job over this, unfortunately. I hate to say that, but this is an over the top reaction and I don’t have any faith that this won’t get crazier.

          1. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

            Agreed. The CEO has made it extremely clear that he doesn’t want to talk to LW. At least not right now. And he’s done this to the point of shutting down avenues of communication that other employees presumably still have.

      5. Jaydee*

        But the CEO’s freakout could jeopardize LW’s continued employment there. I think it’s entirely reasonable to send one communication with a paper trail or witnesses (so either an email directly to the CEO or a message passed on via LW’s supervisor or HR, who seem to know what’s up even if they’re not directly acknowledging it with LW) that essentially says “Dude, slow your roll! This is weird for both of us. I don’t expect any favoritism from you, but I’d also appreciate not feeling like my job is at risk over something that was a surprise to me too. Can we just both agree not to let this impact work?”

        If the CEO is worried that LW and other newly-discovered family members are going to show up and try to take advantage of his success or whatever, that should help put him at ease, at least with regard to LW.

        1. LTR FTW*

          “Dude, slow your roll! This is weird for both of us. I don’t expect any favoritism from you, but I’d also appreciate not feeling like my job is at risk over something that was a surprise to me too. Can we just both agree not to let this impact work?” –> this is perfect. Maybe a little colloquial, but this is exactly the message I’d want to convey in OP’s shoes.

          1. L'étrangère*

            Yes, this is perfect. Normally I’d think ignoring the whole mess would be the best policy. But the CEO has already shown that -he- is not ignoring it, so I think that route is blocked. Might as well go for the direct approach (I’d probably add a couple words about how the OP is already dealing with the whole family being weird), it can’t be any worse. Although after the note I’d also go to HR and make GINA noises about being singled out and hoping more concrete retaliation doesn’t follow. Yes, the OP should probably start looking around, but on her own time and without getting pushed into a bad situation just to get out of this one.

            And then don’t forget to point out to the mutual father the bad consequences his actions are having. Don’t hesitate to ask for compensation if the job change entails financial loss. Oy. I’m so grateful to my sister for pointing out that neither one of us should ever get a genetic test because of the likelihood of similar problems..

            1. Marny*

              I’m not seeing how mutual father needs to be guilted here or should be hit up for compensation. It sounds like it was a relationship before he was married to LW’s mother and that he didn’t even know the child/CEO existed. He didn’t do anything wrong.

              1. aebhel*

                ^ this. It sounds like this was a fling from well before he was married that he didn’t know resulted in a child, and absent any other indication of bad behavior, this is just a weird and unpleasant coincidence.

                (I do honestly find it weird that the CEO in question took a DNA test in the first place if this was how he was going to react to finding a match, though. Like, yeah, the professional connection is awkward, but this seems like a bizarre and OTT reaction)

                1. Velociraptor Attack*

                  Based on their reaction, it doesn’t seem like CEO took it with any question about who their birth father was.

                  There very well may be someone they thought was their birth father and took it expecting to find some distant cousins and find out what areas their ancestors came from and if they have the gene to like cilantro or not.

                2. AmateurGenealogist*

                  The CEO might not have had an inkling that he would have results out of the ordinary. He was probably just hoping to find out if he is 26% Irish or something. He might know other people get surprising news, but didn’t expect it himself.

                3. Ellie*

                  He likely had no idea his ‘father’ wasn’t his real father.

                  My in-laws have been bugging me to do one of those DNA tests, and I’ve been resisting. You can bet I’ll never touch one now… let sleeping dogs lie, hey?

                4. Genealogist Hat On*

                  The companies are marketing “find your ethnicity!” and “learn about your genetic traits!”, while not putting enough weight on “also, learn who you’re really biologically related to”. Far too many people take DNA tests without stopping to think about whether they’re willing to discover that they’re not related to someone they thought they were, or that they have a close relative they didn’t know about.

                  My relatives and I were lucky; the unexpected first cousin and the discovery that someone’s biological father wasn’t their on-paper father, while surprises, were not shocks because of what we already knew about the other parties involved. And because my family members tested for genealogy rather than for ethnicity, for us the information was worth the risk of a shock.

            2. New Jack Karyn*

              “And then don’t forget to point out to the mutual father the bad consequences his actions are having. Don’t hesitate to ask for compensation if the job change entails financial loss.”

              I don’t think OP’s father needs to have his nose rubbed in anything. He’s dealing with the fact that he has a child he never knew about. It’s not his fault that the CEO is now behaving badly. It sounds like you’re suggesting that OP request compensation from her father if this job goes south. That can’t be right, can it?

              1. Jasper*

                It would be completely not a legal request, and moreover, the only thing the father has done that is remotely not a great idea is the taking of the genetic test — having a child you don’t know about (especially before your current relationship started) is something that you literally cannot blame people for.

                And frankly, the genetic test did its job exactly correctly from the point of view of the father. He found a relative he didn’t know about but would presumably like to. That the person in question happens to be LW’s boss, and not just boss but CEO, is a happenstance with odds so astronomically low nobody would consider it a realistic event in advance of it happening.

        2. Observer*

          I think it’s entirely reasonable to send one communication with a paper trail or witnesses

          Paper trail is one thing. Witnesses is a totally different thing. It’s not likely to be all that helpful and it WILL inflame the situation.

          “Dude, slow your roll! This is weird for both of us. I don’t expect any favoritism from you, but I’d also appreciate not feeling like my job is at risk over something that was a surprise to me too. Can we just both agree not to let this impact work?”

          It’s fine for the OP to send that message. But if they do that through a messenger, then it come with a side helping of “and if you don’t I’m going to tell the world. In fact, I’ve already started the process.”

          1. Artemesia*

            The CEO by targeting the OP for one on one counseling has already ‘started the process’. The CEO’s actions are what created the mess at work.

            1. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

              Exactly. HR are already involved because the CEO got them involved. (Yes, I know the CEO likely wouldn’t see it this way, given that he’s probably freaking out).

            2. Observer*

              No. Because officially no one knows that they are half siblings. Telling the manager destroys that assumption.

              I’m not defending the CEO’s behavior. Just pointing out that if the OP wants to make it clear that they are perfectly happy to pretend that they have not relationship, doing so by telling their manger is going to directly contradict that.

          2. Jaydee*

            I wouldn’t suggest witnesses if the manager and HR weren’t already involved. My thought was that, if the manager and HR already know what’s going on to prompt these anti-nepotism trainings, the CEO might be more comfortable hearing directly back from them that they talked to LW, LW doesn’t expect any special treatment and finds the whole situation just as weird as the CEO does and if the CEO is cool with keeping it out of work LW is too.

          3. L'étrangère*

            You don’t need to send a notarized note and have it legally served. But work email (which can’t be blocked) with a bcc to your private email is amply sufficient

          4. Misty*

            The ceo has been so weird, my spidey sense is that he thinks op knew about this already and did the dna to take advantage of the already known relationship.

            Op should just move on as Allison suggested.

            Some things are not salvageable, because other people aren’t going to let them salvage it.

        3. anon for this one*

          If the CEO is freaking out this much, I don’t think it’s much of a stretch for him to be thinking that this isn’t a surprise, though. That OP and their family were aware of this relationship before the test and that they’re trying to use it to their advantage somehow. Is it rational? No. But I do think it’s a strong possibility and a big part of the over the top reaction.

          With that in mind, I don’t think it’s a good idea to push the issue with anyone. Continue to do the excellent work that you’ve done while putting feelers out to move on.

          1. Ellie*

            I disagree, I think this is about the CEO wanting the whole problem, OP included, to just disappear. Why block him otherwise? Why focus on the innocent half-brother at all, and not the father? This whole thing screams, ‘go away, you’re not my brother, I’m not dealing with this’. I really think his next step will be to try to get OP fired, or made redundant.

            He sounds unhinged, but we don’t really know what he’s dealing with. Maybe his mother has claimed she was forced, or drugged or something? Maybe his ‘father’ has threatened to cut him off. Or maybe this has just dredged back up a whole host of unpleasant memories for all of them. He’s handling it very poorly, but there might be a reason behind it.

            None of this is OPs fault, of course, and none of it might be true. Regardless, he needs to protect himself.

          2. New Jack Karyn*

            I dunno. OP’s been there five years; that’s a long time to play The Manchurian Half-Sibling. I think he’s freaking out, but that doesn’t mean he’s going into full-on conspiracy theory mode.

      6. Anne Wentworth*

        Follow that lead and pretend it never happened??? The CEO is using HR to harass LW at work! He’s not pretending it never happened. The LW needs to say something and I’m hoping they’ll get some legal advice because the CEO is acting like a petulant child and endangering LW’s ability to keep a roof over his head.

        1. AmateurGenealogist*

          That is very true. The LW is an innocent party here, and they aren’t being treated as such. All these efforts to spare the CEO’s feelings while he shows no regard for the LW. If it was emotionally too much for him, he should have handed off the matter to someone else.

    2. Fluffy Fish*

      Oh not a good idea.

      1. Its actively showing the CEO you are bringing someone else into it.
      2. Remember that game of telephone we all played in grade school where as a sentence was passed along to different people it became more and more mangled?

      1. Mangled Metaphor*

        I think the manager already knows something is up and was already brought in by the management chain when she was asked to speak to OP 1-to-1.
        The CEO is the one engaging more and more people – he’s has not just brought the elephant into the room, he’s put a party hat on it and is shouting “hey, look at this big grey elephant”. Not that it’s his fault, he’s freaked out, but it might take a bit of time for the party hat to come off, and for the big grey elephant to become just a big grey shape.
        Talk to HR to cover your own back reputation and reference-wise. Polish the resume and keep it handy and then wait for the dust to settle and the elephant to sleep to work out what’s next.

    3. wordswords*

      I definitely wouldn’t do that. “I’ll keep this quiet, I have no interest in trying to trade on this or impinge on your life” is a message that’s directly at odds with enlisting more coworkers as middlemen between LW and the CEO. It puts the manager in an awkward situation too, and can only make LW’s message less effective. (And yeah, she was enlisted to meet 1:1 with LW, but we don’t know if she got more details or was just told to make sure LW in specific understands the policy, or something.)

    4. Observer*

      If you have a good relationship with your manager, perhaps you could ask her to convey up the chain the message/sentiment that you would put in a note?

      At this point it’s not clear that the manager knows what the specific issues are, and it’s best to keep it that way.

      Making it clear that now OTHER people absolutely know about this is a risky thing to do, since the CEO seems highly invested in pretending that this is not happening.

    5. Robin Ellacott*

      I wonder whether there is a middle ground, where OP can speak to their manager and say “this is awkward, but I do understand why this is happening. I am a very firm believer in keeping such matters wholly separate from work, so thanks for your clarification of the policy but I’m very sure it won’t be a problem for me.

    6. Decidedly Me*

      I wouldn’t tell the manager, as they may not know and I doubt the CEO wants them to know if they don’t already. They may have felt uncomfortable that they were being asked to single out a particular employee without being told why, leaving them to have to guess at what might be behind it.

    7. JSPA*

      I was thinking something like this, but could not find a way to bring it up that says, “super not interested in knowing more” without it feeling invasive or creepy or disclosing more.

      MAAAAYBE a small lie, and a vague general statement, dropped into a social conversation?

      “You ever go along with a family thing that didn’t interest you, and regret it? My family did some sort of DNA project, and now everyone is all up in my business and wants me to look at the results to know all about my health risks and crap, and go on diets and talk about cancer. How is that any sort of fun? I’m just so over the whole thing.”

      If your manager knows why you were called in, your manager may think to report up the chain that “OP isn’t looking at the results, it was their family’s health kick, they’re ignoring it.”

      But even that is going to feel pretty awkward and random.

    8. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

      That is not a good idea, as it involves sending information to other members of the management chain, and while CEO might do that, it is not in OP’s best interest to disclose this to anyone except maybe the CEO or HR.

      I honestly think touching up the resume and putting out feelers for other jobs while ignoring it and remaining professional and seemingly unaware of/ disinclined to draw attention to any issues relating to this is the best approach for the moment.

    1. Anon for this*

      I was just thinking yesterday that it’s been a while since we had a really outlandish one. Total Lifetime movie!

      1. Warrior Princess Xena*

        Same! I opened the site and immediately thought “is someone sending letters from soap opera dramas now?”

        1. DataGirl*

          Same! This for sure seems like a plot line from a Soap. Poor LW, what a terrible position to be in.

          1. Nerfmobile*

            Eh, the soap opera version would be “I just discovered I am half-siblings with the CEO, who I have been having a secret affair with. I’m pregnant and due in two months – he may be the father.”

        2. Zombeyonce*

          Since DNA testing and notifications of siblings became a thing, there have been so many wild situations like this that make a mess of people’s personal lives. It’s not surprising to me it’s bleeding over into professional lives, too.

      2. Clisby*

        There was a WSJ article from, I think, a couple of years ago where 2 sisters did DNA tests just to see what it said about their ethnicity. It turned out they are actually half sisters; one of them has a part-black half-brother (they share a father); and the 2nd sister is the daughter of their mother and a guy she had an affair with while married.

        No impact on anybody’s work, but it was pretty wild. (The 2 sisters had a couple of brothers who politely declined to be tested. Who knows what else might have turned up?)

    2. sofar*

      This has solidified my decision to NEVER take a DNA test. My mom was gifted one two years ago, and immediately threw it in the trash and said, “Nothing good ever comes of these things.” So I have a strong suspicion that there are some secrets a-lurking on my mom’s side that I’d rather not know about.

      1. Aggretsuko*

        I got gifted one and some of my relatives did one, but literally nothing exciting’s happened for me. One of my cousins said she got messaged by a supposed secret relative, but I haven’t heard anything else on the topic.

        Honestly, I was disappointed, I would have been amused to come up with a secret sibling at my age :P But this is NOT a fun secret sibling story at all. Geeeeeeeez.

        1. Lydia*

          My brother and I did one acknowledging the unlikely, but still possible, outcome might be that we were half-siblings. Instead, we found out we’re not as German as our last name implies, and a lot of other stuff that is completely non-controversial, but still very interesting.

          1. GasketGirl*

            My parents and I did a DNA test and while the outcome wasn’t completely surprising as I could already trace back several generations on both sides, I was surprised by the percentage of Swedish from my dad’s side. His side can be traced mostly to Northern Germany, so it kind of makes sense considering the proximity to Sweden, but still. No wonder I’ve always loved IKEA!

            1. Lydia*

              Same for us and the Swedish/Danish stuff! I haven’t jumped in yet, but I am REALLY interested in how that worked out. My parents haven’t done the test, but I might try to talk them into it. Either way, I did figure that border between Germany and Denmark probably moved quite a bit and that’s probably the explanation.

          2. Artemesia*

            I learned that the family myth that we had a native American ancestor was probably not true, but that the myth that my great grandmother was adopted from ‘Gypsies’ might be. I have a tad of Indian subcontinent in the genes and that is where the Roma originate. The rest is boring Irish, British, German.

        2. Avery*

          I got one and found a secret relative… from several generations back. Apparently great-grandpappy had a kid before he got into show business and moved cross-country apparently.
          Not quite the same as a secret sibling, but still fun… and the embarrassment’s a bit down since great-grandpappy’s no longer with us, and neither is his secret kid. All the drama without the personal awkwardness! I just wish the secret kid’s grandkid would connect more with me so we could learn more about the whole situation…

        3. High Score!*

          Funny thing, every year at Christmas I’m so tempted to purchase DNA kits for my entire racist but looked a little mixed family just to prove a point but some of the nicer family members don’t look like both their parents *cough* & they don’t realize it & I don’t want to upend their lives

              1. L'étrangère*

                I would be sooo tempted. You might also think of it in terms of upending the lives of the nice relatives in a good way? It could be very liberating to find out they’re not as related to the others as they think they’re doomed to be

          1. TeamPottyMouth*

            My DNA shows 1% African, and let me tell you, I have been biting my tongue for several months w every communication w my low-contact racist parents because I’m fairly certain that the bomb this news would set off could literally kill my mother, and knowing how toxic family members like to twist and blame when they don’t want to take responsibility for their own thoughts and feelings, I’m just not ready for that argument.

            1. gyratory_circus*

              My results also say 1% African, as does my father’s results, and all the family members on his father’s side. They’ve always insisted that that line is part Cherokee, but that’s clearly not true. (And to corroborate this, I have census records from 1900 that list my great-grandmother as Black, but that was always brushed off as a mistake by the census taker.)

            2. Jasper*

              Are there even people anywhere without said 1%? Even taking it at face value, that’s roughly a 1 in 64 to 1 in 128 contribution which is so little it’s *several* generations further removed than even the “not one drop” assholes of the third reich or Klan were concerned about.

              And that’s inasmuch as it’s not just an artifact of the way they’re doing the DNA testing, especially given that the ancestry of modern man in general lies in africa — even the ones that made it out into asia or europe and mutated into being pale. I suspect the error bars are larger than the signal here.

        4. Just Another Zebra*

          So I did one a few years ago, and nothing came of it for quite some time. Recently I got a message from someone who I allegedly shared a great-grandparent with. We figured out our grandmothers were sisters, who hadn’t spoken in 30+ years. It was pretty cool to piece together more of our family tree and swap some family photos.

          A secret second cousin is one thing. I secret sibling… eesh.

          1. Rebecca*

            I am in the position of having an estranged sister, and this is my worst fear. That my children will discover their cousins. On the other hand, if my potential grandchildren found them as adults, anyone that actively participated in the estrangement will be dead.

            1. Just Another Zebra*

              Both our grandmothers are still alive, and both are aware that we’ve been talking. They don’t want to communicate with each other, which is totally fine. But for my dad, who has been feeling a bit… adrift after his last sibling passed away, has been over the moon at having a whole new bevy of cousins to speak with. And I’ve never been close to much of my dad’s family (apart from one cousin) so it’s been nice to forge a connection.

            2. L'étrangère*

              I made a point of reaching out to our estranged cousin a while back. She ignored me strenuously, I think because she thought I was the black one. Ha ha! At least now I don’t have to worry about a nice person being stranded alone on that side of the family

          2. Just Another Techie*

            Yeahhh I found out my dad had a whole family he abandoned before he met my mom. Like, he was over 40 when he married my mom, so I always kinda figured there might be some wild oats or something, but wasn’t prepared for ex-wife and kids who he knew about and just left them behind in his home.country. It took a LOT of therapy to deal with that.

            1. Kayem*

              I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if that turned out to be the story with my paternal grandfather. All of the family farm history goes back on grandma’s side of the family and grandpa just sort of appeared. Grandma was 19, he was much, much, much older (and abusive, which I recently found out about and explains so much about my dad).

              We know he was married at least twice before, but we have no information on one beyond a photo and a first name for the first wife and a first name for the second wife that I’m not entirely sure is real because it’s one of the fairies from A Midsummer Night’s Dream. No dates of marriage and grandpa’s last name is so common, there’s no point in searching. And likely could be not his birth name for all we know.

        5. Michaela T*

          My husband and I did tests and it was really fun! No surprises so far. Went over the results with my parents and they told stories of the older relatives that came from Germany to the US. Sent the results to their siblings. I know my family is boring, though.

        6. anon for this one*

          I found out I had a half sibling when I was in high school. I only half believed it at the time, but as I got older, the very few but specific details were proven true, and about two years ago, it was confirmed by another family member. Photos of my sibling’s kids look like my cousins. There’s absolutely no doubt. But my sibling doesn’t want to hear about it. Their father is their father and that’s that. I get it. A part of me wishes they’d want to get to know me, though. I’m into genealogy anyway, so I did the DNA test years ago. I keep hoping one of my sibling’s kids will test, just so I’d have that 100% proof. But it probably wouldn’t change anything.

          1. Green Goose*

            Aww, I’m sorry. I found out about my secret sibling when I was 26 or 27. My dad and I had been estranged for a long time at that point, so there wasn’t any family to break up with the information. She was ten years older than me and had lived a really hard life, and I really wish our dad hadn’t selfishly hid that information. I wish I had known her when we were both younger because unfortunately, she’s involved with stuff now that is extremely unsafe and not stuff I can subject myself or my family to.
            I’m actually curious if there are other siblings out there, it wouldn’t surprise me at this point.

        7. Kayem*

          Same with me, I was hoping for something interesting. My test revealed nothing interesting in terms of relatives (lots of interesting things on individual genes and health/physical data, though). But the possibility that one of my parents wasn’t one of my parents is so tiny that it might only exist in an alternate universe. The family resemblance is so very, very strong. When I’m standing by either of my parents or my brother, there’s no doubt.

          My partner, on the other hand, they were contacted by someone who was asking for family history info. She said she had taken a DNA test after her father passed and discovered that he wasn’t actually her father. Her bio father (who also had recently passed) turned out to be a second cousin to my partner. She said when she asked her mom about the results, her mom was unsurprised. Apparently she was dating three different guys at the same time and eventually picked one. She had just assumed she was pregnant from the one she married.

      2. No Longer Gig-less Data Analyst*

        My maternal grandfather and grandmother apparently cheated on each other quite a bit when they were married, and my mother has expressed that she will never take a DNA test because she is worried it will turn out she’s not bio-related to one of them (especially her dad, who she adored). She’s also let everyone in the family know that if they choose to do a test she doesn’t want to hear a peep about the results no matter what they are.

        1. 1LFTW*

          Good on your mom for stating that boundary.

          I think a lot of people take ancestry tests and while they may prepare *themselves* to learn a family secret, they’re not prepared to grapple with whether or not to share that with other family members, who may or may not want to know.

      3. TheNewNermal*

        1000%! I’m not trying to give a private company any biometric data AND you really only hear wild stories like this when DNA tests are involved. How is that fun?

        1. Happy meal with extra happy*

          Yeah, I would totally do one except for the fact that we have zero clue what’s going to be done with that data five, ten, whenever years down the line. Especially because my info’s going to show essentially 100% ashkenazi Jew, I do NOT want that floating out there.

          1. MM*

            Something I wish more people thought about with this too is that they are making decisions FOR OTHER PEOPLE about privacy. (As OP is seeing!) My dad was super excited about these tests when they first came out, and not only did he do one, he had my mom and his sister do one each. So basically every relevant part of my genome is already logged regardless of whether I decide for myself if I’m comfortable with it.

          2. just some guy*

            It’s not just about what might happen five or ten years down the line – what’s happening with this kind of data *right now* should give pause for thought. DNA info submitted to genealogy websites is accessible to police and has been used to identify suspects via their relatives.

            In a perfect world where DNA evidence only ever convicts guilty people, that might be fine, but in the real world it’s something to think about before submitting a sample that might end up being used in a wrongful conviction.

            Related: https://www.wired.com/story/an-effort-to-id-tulsa-race-massacre-victims-raises-privacy-issues/

            1. Mary Connell*

              This is not entirely accurate. Only DNA submitted to GEDMatch and FamilyTreeDNA is available to law-enforcement.

              1. Enai*

                Hmm… Wasn’t there something called a “Patriot Act” 20 years back that among other things gave secret agencies secret powers to be rubberstamped by secret courts? I feel that data which doesn’t exist can’t be subpoena’d, but that’s me.

      4. Phony Genius*

        The writer says the CEO would have had to opt-in to receive notifications. My question is whether the writer and their whole family could have opted-out from anybody else being notified of a match.

          1. Lydia*

            The one I did would let you keep your results private. It’s not required to put everyone on blast. You also have the option of not connecting to people you share DNA with and if you do want to connect, you can set how far back the connection goes. So immediate family or second cousins and so on.

      5. Anon for this*

        The flipside of this coin is that one of my parents (who already knew that they were a sperm donor baby) discovered literally dozens of half-siblings (who found each other through those tests), and they have a whole community and get-togethers/reunions, and research their mutual biological father and his life, and it’s really cute and wholesome. Occasionally they discover a new one – another half-sibling who took a DNA test – and reach out to invite them into the fold.

        1. Sabetha*

          I think I’m related to this scenario or a similar one. My uncle is tickled pink to have discovered dozens of half siblings. They’re really obnoxious about it – in the best way.

          1. Anon for this*

            Ha, one reason I went anon for this is that it’s an unusual scenario (I found one of the cousins on social media because I was describing the scenario to a groupchat and someone’s response was more or less “Unless there are two scenarios like this, I think I know one of your cousins” and he turned out to be right). And if any of my multitude of biological aunts/uncles/cousins read AAM, I don’t want to dox my usual handle. Not that I think they’d have a problem with my posts, I’m just cautious about that sort of thing.

        2. Brain the Brian*

          Donor baby here. I was able to connect with a genetic half-sibling last year for the first time after DNA testing, and it’s really quite nice for me (and also a bit frightening how much we look alike). But I’m very clear that I have a donor and a dad, and those two people are very different to me; donor relatives are not legal relatives — plain and simple. I imagine it would be quite different if I was surprised by a DNA test discovery that the dad who raised me was not my biological father; if nothing else, the law *does* in some cases recognize relatives via affairs, unlike egg and sperm donors, who sign away all parental rights and agree to sever the legal family lineage to their donor children. The CEO in this letter is clearly reacting out of fear, although the best way to help him navigate that fear is not clear to me.

          1. BubbleTea*

            As I’ve said to people who have insisted on referring to my child’s donor as his dad, “parent is a verb”. Your parents are the ones who do the parenting, regardless of genetics.

            1. Brain the Brian*

              Absolutely. My brain’s “operating system” works like my mom’s (and she *is* a genetic parent), but my dad took the lead on teaching me to read and about morals, how the world works, the meaning of community involvement and family, and on and on. As a result, I share my dad’s worldview and — before he died — could have much deeper conversations with him than my mom.

        3. Iris Eyes*

          Thank goodness for DNA testing. Can you imagine trying to date not knowing that you had dozens of siblings lurking out in the wild? There’s a significant push to create some actual laws about donor DNA in the USA and place limits on just how many people can be produced from one donor (and also laws about Drs having to use the actual DNA the new family thinks they are using.)

          1. Brain the Brian*

            Yes, it would be *checks notes* just like European royalty for centuries. (Of course, that ended very poorly.)

        4. AnonSquare*

          This kind of scenario is not all sweet. One of my early boyfriends turned out to be one of those fertile bunnies who had upward of 40 donor kids. But he’s not a nice person. Wife beating, child abuse, murder attempts between relatives.. I am quite worried about the young innocents who may cross his path in their sweet search for family. Or the potential genetic psychos who may be lurking in one of those cheerful half sibling groups. Family can be one of the most dangerous environments

      6. Anon4This*

        I recently found out that my grandmother’s mother was a ‘lady of the night’ before she settled down. She married after having her first two kids so no one knows who those two fathers were, that includes my grandma. Which means the whole big family history we thought we knew isn’t any biological relation to our branch of the family tree. I would like to know our ancestry, but I’m not sure I want to open that can of worms.

      7. Anonariffic*

        There was a post I saw on Reddit a while back where somebody was saying that she and her siblings got DNA kits for Christmas and their mother immediately went into an incoherent fit about it. The post concluded with a line like, “Now mom and dad are arguing in the kitchen and my brothers and I are out here trying to figure out who’s the affair baby.”

        (IIRC there was no affair, it was something like mom’s first husband had died while she was pregnant with the eldest kid and she remarried the friend who helped her through it all. But it was still a painful subject so they never mentioned it)

      8. irianamistifi*

        My dad’s family is ENORMOUS. He has 69 first cousins. 2 years ago, someone in the family got a notification about a “new” half-sibling who had taken a DNA test in his 60s. Hello, Cousin #70!

        I’m not in the area, but I heard that the cousins who lived nearby had a family reunion to meet the new guy. So that’s nice. It helps that nearly all the people in our grandparents’ generation have passed at this point, so parental reconciliation isn’t really a thing anyone needs to worry about.

        1. So anonymous*

          Family member did a DNA test and found out he had two half-brothers, one on each side. He and I married into the same family, so it’s not a scandal for me, but it was an interesting outcome. He’s met them both and definitely clicks more with one than the other but felt happy he knew about them and got to meet them.

        2. msjwhittz*

          Yeah, my grandma was the youngest of 13 Italian Catholic siblings, so my dad has somewhere around 110 first cousins. We’ve not gone the DNA testing route, we can hardly keep track of the D’Arienzos we know about!

      9. Asenath*

        I took one years ago, as have some of my relatives. There’s someone lurking out there who is probably an unknown first cousin, but who hasn’t followed up (the system that notified us certainly notified him that people within that degree of relationship were on the system and could be contacted through it). No big dramas, and the tons of more distant unknown relationships are too distant to be of even that mild level of interest.

        1. Asenath*

          Meant to add – we also had a previously unknown first cousin show up without any need of DNA use to find the family, so the shock value of such events doesn’t exist for us. CEO is wildy over-reacting, and I strongly suspect OP should, for self-protection, make it clear that she’s not interested in following up on this – and maybe, in case things don’t settle down, find another job because it does sound like she is targeted by the CEO, and that’s not good.

      10. Oxford Comma*

        It depends. In my case, it’s just turned up an absolute ton of third and fourth cousins. If you do genealogy, and I do, it can help you break through brick walls. I may have stumbled over a great grandparent’s out-of-wedlock kid, but as everyone who would care is so long dead and buried, it’s not really a big deal.

      11. Curmudgeon in California (they/them)*

        I have mixed feelings about it. I’m pretty sure that my biological father is not the man my mom married – she said as much. AFAIK he’s dead, as is my Dad. But I don’t know if I have other half sibs, and what the genetic issues might be… But I’m actually too cheap to pay for one.

      12. AmberFox*

        I WISH I’d dumped mine in the trash. My mother bought us DNA kits as Christmas presents and insisted on doing it at the dining room table because genealogy. It has now turned into “wait, why am I not getting matches from the relatives I’m supposed to be getting matches from?” drama for her, including but not limited to trying to milk the family gatekeeper great-aunt for details and considering who might be her actual grandfather and whether he or his children are accessible for DNA tests.

      13. Anon for This*

        I took one for a specific reason. I have a great-aunt who moved away to parts unknown and lost touch with the family. I probably have some second cousins out there whom I’ve never met and would like to meet one day.

      14. Despachito*

        Your mother is a wise woman. And it definitely does not have to be an indication of any secret she is aware of, just from reading OP’s post it is clear she is spot on.

        I have never taken such a test and never will, and I am not aware of any “dirty secret” in my family. I wonder how this works – is it really reliable, and do you really get results with specific names, as in “your DNA matches that of Bart Simpson from Smallville, Ohio, Main Street 123, so hey presto, he is your half brother”? If so, it sounds like a horrible breach of privacy. I assume that to achieve this result, Bart Simpson had to take the test as well and somehow agreed to publish his results, but still.

        I do not see any advantages, not even in the health field that might outweigh the potential blowbacks of revealing potentially hurtful or confusing information.

        As to the OP, I’d act as if I did not know about the testing and start looking. What the CEO did was outlandish and super awkward, and there is nothing OP can do that did not sound awfully awkward as well. I know that this is a bit of “Monday morning quarterbacking” but this is why I think the DNA testing is not a good idea at all.

    3. RabbitRabbit*

      Seriously. I work in medical research at a hospital and can say that although I deal with GINA on an at least weekly basis, I have never seen it raised in this kind of context and had never even conceived of such a need for it. (Thank goodness.)

        1. Helewise*

          I don’t usually go to that as a first step, but that seems like it should be the first step here.

  2. Kay*

    If I said what I thought of the CEO I would get banned for being unkind. His response was so inappropriate.

    I’m so sorry OP. If I was in your shoes I would quit as soon as I was able and if I was asked by my manager/HR I would tell them exactly why. Sending good vibes your way whatever you decide to do.

    1. shrinking violet*

      Yes, absolutely tell them why, when/if you leave. They need to know how he reacted to this. Very unprofessional.

    2. Troutwaxer*

      “If I said what I thought of the CEO I would get banned for being unkind. His response was so inappropriate.

      Yeah, he’s probably on the phone to the OP mom telling her to have a 97th trimester abortion! (And we’ll definitely want an update on this one!)

    3. Putting the Dys in Dysfunction*

      Cue the first job search interview. Interviewer asks the standard question why do you want to leave your current company?

      I’m sure Alison would recommend one of the standard bland answers; anything revealing would be likely to cause trouble. But what is the answer we wish OP could say?

      “I was minding my own business and doing well in the company. Then one day my DNA test results came back, and nothing was the same ever again. Sorry I can’t give you any details.”

      1. SAS*

        “Sorry I can’t give you any details” LOLLLL

        I really hope OP will be able to laugh about this someday. My heart is absolutely going out to them for being put in this position.

  3. The Girl in the Red Sweater*

    Totally agree with Alison, and also the suggestion above to ask your boss to relay a message to CEO.

    But also wanted to say re: OP’s point “I think the jig is up.” OP, there is no jig! You did nothing wrong!!! The CEO is being super weird.

    1. The Girl in the Red Sweater*

      Also, the fact that the CEO had to clarify that no one is entitled to perks “if a familial relation … is discovered during employment”… so does that mean nepotism IS ok if it’s known before someone was employed?? WTF.

        1. Phony Genius*

          Yes. But the writing is so clunky, it could be interpreted in such a way that if somebody was receiving perks and then the familial relationship is discovered, they could take the perks away. (Though the clunky writing may be due to editing that was necessary to keep the writer anonymous.)

  4. EmmaPoet*

    I tend to agree with Alison. Maybe this is just a freakout based on a shock, but the fact that CEO leaped straight to nepotism training clearly directed at you and getting your manager involved makes me think that getting out of this company ASAP is the safest move for you.

    1. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

      I agree. It could be a long time, if ever, before the CEO comes to accept the news. I fear he’s going to find any way to justify lettering OP go sooner than later. Time to polish up the resume and do what’s best for you.

    2. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      Agreed. Irrespective of right and wrong, I feel like insulation via distance is LW’s best move forward.

      I don’t see a scenario where this doesn’t lurk in the shadows as long as LW and the CEO are both at this company.

    3. Abe Froman*

      This is what I get stuck on… why did he immediately jump to the conclusion that OP will try to use this to strong-arm/blackmail him? It seems like such an outlandish reaction. This is not someone who I would want to continue to work for.

      1. Warrior Princess Xena*

        Best guess from me is that the CEO has no idea how to react to the news and is falling back on perceived workplace damage control.

        1. Hlao-roo*

          Yeah, I think that this is a perfect storm of (1) CEO feeling really destabilized by this discovery and (2) CEO being in a position to do something to set strong boundaries with one of his newly-discovered half-siblings because they happen to work for the same company and he happens to be the CEO.

          1. chips and scraps*

            Yeah, I think CEO is shocked and flailing, and unfortunately has considerable power to flail with.

        2. EPLawyer*

          Damage control for what though? Its not like the OP DID anything. IF she had lost her damn mind and suddenly demanded a raise, a promotion and her own bathroom, then yeah. But to pre-emptively act out when NOTHING indicates it would be a problem is a SEVERE overreaction. In fact, by acting like this, the CEO caused more damage than if he just ignored it.

          I would say go to HR and document it, but presumably HR noticed that the nepotism training was ONLY for one department. They didn’t push back or wonder why. I mean IF the CEO wanted to make clear that OP wasn’t entitled to any extra perks, a discrete word would have been much better. So I don’t think HR will be much help even at documenting.

          Only solution, get out. This is not someone who will react rationally when it comes to OP.

          1. Observer*

            Damage control for what though?

            That’s a good question. But I suspect that there is a lot going on here that the OP would have absolutely no way to know about. Because why would the CEO have opted in to these notifications and yet get so freaked out?

            It could be that he’s just an idiot who opted in because someone convinced him that it would be a “fun” thing to do and now doesn’t have a clue how to handle it, or course. But it could be a lot of other things, and all we or the OP can do is to speculate.

            Speculation can be fun, but not when your job may be on the line. And I think that the one thing that is clear is that the CEO is not handling this well and the OP may need to find a new job. None of the possible reasons for the CEO’s freak out change that.

            1. Hannah Lee*

              I wonder if the exact nature of the genetic relationship is clear to the CEO. From what I’ve heard, there are some relationships like, based only by DNA evidence “could be this kind of relative, but, could also be this kind of relative” and CEO leapt to it being something it isn’t, or might not be. Another option is that some *other* new relative in this family chain has reached out to CEO looking for perks and CEO is reacting with a firehose to fend off any and all other relatives.

              But, in any case, CEO’s response was a massive overreaction, and the selective nepotism training + super special one on one + methodical blocking of a low level employee he has limited interaction with just made all that clear. As leader of a 200 person company, he’s got a responsibility to not act like a reactionary doofus. Just because he had the power to do all that stuff doesn’t me he should have.

              Unfortunately for LW, I don’t think there’s any scenario where LW can regain their neutral good-employee footing and succeed in that company in the future. This is absolutely an “update resume, make an exit plan and move along” situation. If it was some other senior exec and not the CEO, there might be value in alerting HR to the laws around misuse of genetic information, but if CEO doesn’t want LW at the company, he’s going to find a way to make that so. Rather than hanging around for something even worse to happen (something that could impact LW’s ability to get a good job elsewhere, like a demotion or PIP or firing) LW is better off moving along sooner rather than later. Is it fair? no. Is it right? no. Is it what LW might have to do to get whole after CEO demonstrated really bad judgement.

            2. tamarack etc.*

              Well, I guess there may very well be real damage from the situation, if this whole thing means a newly discovered infidelity of the CEO’s mother with the OP’s father. Also, the CEO now has a whole bunch of new half-siblings, it seems. He may very well be under considerable stress at home from this.

              The problem is of course that the OP has nothing whatsoever to do with what happened however many years ago! And thus if the CEO has switched to damage control mode by controlling what he can control as long as he can’t control what he’d like to control (the behavior of people half a lifetime ago), it’s akin to searching for your lost keys under the street lamp because there is light there…

          2. learnedthehardway*

            I think connecting with HR, pointing out the legal bit that Allison mentioned, and pointing out that you have no intention of reaching out to the CEO, but you also don’t appreciate being targeted is the way to go.

            I would be VERY upset, in your situation, at the way you are being treated, and I think it’s entirely legitimate for you to point that out. The CEO is out of line, and HR should be reeling him back in.

            I would definitely start looking for other opportunities, but I wouldn’t jump at the first thing. Hopefully, your lack of engagement, your good reputation and work, and your pointing out that you are being treated unfairly will be enough to protect your job in the short term. In the mid-to-longer term, though, I suspect that you will need to look for progression in roles outside of the organization, because the CEO does seem paranoid about this newly discovered family connection.

          3. spruce*

            I worry for OP that HR and their manager may have jumped to the conclusion that the training was based on an actual incident. If the CEO has previously been a reasonable man (OP does not say that he wasn’t), then CEO pushing for that training in ONE department, plus asking the manager to have a conversation with a specific person… it does imply there was a problem. We know there wasn’t, but how are they to know that?

        3. MM*

          The only other thing I can think of is that maybe CEO’s existing family have tried to take advantage in the past, but honestly many things can be true at the same time.

      2. Snarkus Aurelius*

        Because that’s what he would do in the OP’s position I bet. Getting what, I don’t know. But he doesn’t know the OP personally so all he has to go on is his own reaction if the roles were reversed.

        Says a lot about him, if that’s true!

        1. Silver Robin*

          Every accusation is a confession…

          I can sympathize with a panic response. But to follow through this thoroughly?

        2. Nobby Nobbs*

          Maybe I’m being unkind, but CEO sounds like the guy who puts potential SOs through crazy hoops to prove they aren’t gold diggers out to seduce him for his fortune.

      3. Lydia*

        Someone I know tracked down her father (she knew who he was, this was before DNA) and his immediate reaction was to take all his businesses and properties and transfer them to his wife as if her only reason for getting in contact with him was to get money out of him. Turns out, unsurprisingly, he was a crappy person. I think the CEO is telling you a LOT about himself, OP, and it pays to listen. Best bet is to get out of this job and away from this guy.

      4. Tupac Coachella*

        It made me wonder if the CEO mistakenly thought that the family did something to cause the notification and it was intended as some kind of veiled threat. I know a lot of people who have a very basic idea of how settings work, and may not realize that an app can default to opt them in for things. If they downloaded the app, poked around for a while and then forgot about it, they may have been caught off guard when a notification popped up that surprise! You’re related to OP! Still handled with an astounding lack of judgement, but people don’t always or even usually handle things perfectly, and this isn’t covered in the handbook. If CEO thought it was an intentional message from OP/OP’s family rather than an automated notification, it could explain the assumption that OP might be up to something.

        1. Ellis Bell*

          I find the nature of these notifications from the testing company really alarming! Surely with modern data protection laws it should be impossible for someone to get your genetic information and relationships without you explicitly okaying it. Do they make you opt into this when you buy the test? I can’t see how they can just sling this information around in this way.

          1. Ferret*

            I’m pretty sure you have to explicitly opt in – but it can be easy to do so under the assumption there are no skeletons in your genetic closet only to have them spring out at you.

            For all we know the CEO might even have been in the position of not knowing who his genetic father was and been looking forward to finding some new relatives only to be blindsided by the fact that one of them works directly for him

            1. Jam Today*

              Not only do you have to specifically opt-in for familial notifications but you can choose how much identifying information you make available to your generic matches. You don’t have to have your full name, location, age, etc. You could leave it as “J, Doe.” So the CEO chose to share their full name, etc.

              1. J*

                Half of the matches my dad hits against are something like “bikes4fun” and no family tree is attached. I can guess by hints and connections to my grandpa (or lack thereof) which side of the family he matches against but I also manage my husband’s tree that’s more of a bush and I can’t even guess which side is the match half the time. There’s also instances where people are forthcoming and I’ve solved familial adoption mysteries for my great great grandparents and helped others find their deployed daddies in their own adoption quests. You have a lot of customization.

            2. Ellis Bell*

              I think these companies should assume people are not expecting any skeletons and act accordingly. Any revelation that is more personal than, say, “there is a branch of your family tree in x location” or “you have a (type of relation) in our database” should be treated as unexpected and possibly unwelcome. I’m not saying that people shouldn’t be connected, but they should be told the nature of the relationship (mother/sister/brother/cousin) before being asked whether they want that specific person to have their details or name.

          2. ecnaseener*

            I assumed this was ancestry dot com or something like it, where the whole point of the DNA test is to fill in your family tree and everyone’s trees are shared so you can find more links.

      5. Khatul Madame*

        He is a CEO so probably rich, right? Could this be an instinctive attempt to protect the family fortune from potential heirs?
        No, it makes no sense, but I want to explore the wealth/greed angle.
        I agree that LW needs to GTFO, and talking through this with a lawyer might not be a bad idea if she can spare the $$ for a consult.

        1. J*

          This was exactly my impulse. I’m a pretty strong genetic genealogist but when my dad gets hits he’s convinced everyone wants his money…which, generally these people are very distant cousins and he doesn’t have any money. I think a lot of people go into DNA tests wanting some sort of pie chart of “where they come from” and don’t realize there’s real people who will match you and they can’t magically match you just to scam you. Though once I did find a guy who used his matches to hit on people and bro, you’re my cousin’s kid. Gross.

    4. A Girl Named Fred*

      Agreed, especially since it seems that no other layer of management pointed out to the CEO that he was being unreasonable and inappropriate. I get that sometimes the CEO is the CEO and nobody feels comfortable pushing back or can stop it even if they do, but then the conversation from OP’s manager to OP should’ve been a way different tone IMO. (Along the lines of, “I understand this is inappropriate and apologize that I have to ask, but…” or even “If anyone asks, I asked you X. I have no concerns about your judgment, so please let me know if anything gets weird for you.”)

    5. RIP Pillow Fort*

      Honestly I agree. The CEO jumped straight to “this person is going to try to exploit their previously unknown genetic relationship to me!” That’s not a level of logic you can fight against unfortunately.

      I hope this is an uncharacteristic outburst based on panic or stress on the CEO’s part. But OP has a lot more to lose when it comes to their employment than the CEO’s feelings. I would document everything so far (targeted training, discussions with HR, etc.) in case they tried to force you out early though.

    6. Love to WFH*

      This is quite a freakout by the CEO. I wonder if he’s the child of a single mom who had a really tough time? Maybe he was told his father was dead, or that he abandoned her? There could be all sorts of emotions wrapped up in this that have been set off.

    7. BasketcaseNZ*

      It almost feels to me as if the manager thinks that maybe OP already knew, before they took the job?

    8. Beth*

      Agreed. I’d probably personally send the CEO a short, professional note in the meantime (something along the lines of “I was informed of this recently and am hoping to avoid some awkwardness by acknowledging the elephant in the room. I’m sure it’s as much of a shock for you as it is for me, but I hope it doesn’t change anything in regards to work. I value the work I’ve been able to do at [company], and nothing about this news changes my professional plans”). But I really hate leaving a giant awkward problem un-communicated-about, so that might be my personal inclination rather than the actual best course of action.

      Either way, OP, starting a job hunt means that no matter what happens, you’ll know you have options and you’ll be well set up to leave if the situation doesn’t improve. That’s valuable.

      1. SAS*

        Yea, oddly enough the letter this first bought to mind (I haven’t finished reading comments so maybe it’s mentioned) is the one where the LW’s estranged relative had sexually abused his employee.

        I recall he wrote a note essentially saying “I’m aware of this, but I don’t need to acknowledge it any further than you wish to” to get past the eggshells that were being walked on after the discovery. He was obviously MUCH more professional than this CEO.

  5. Snarkus Aurelius*

    Given his overreaction and overly emotional behavior right now, I suspect he thinks you’re going to out him. Any chance this discovery shattered anything he publicly prided himself on like family values or who he thinks was his biological father was?

    The CEO is terrified of you, but that doesn’t make it okay for him to preemptively target you for something you haven’t done.

    1. Abe Froman*

      I’m inclined to agree with fear being a strong motivator here. Why would he immediately think “this person is going to come after me to get something” when he found out? It’s just such a strange reaction… Totally agree with Allison that a job search is in order.

      1. Snarkus Aurelius*

        And it makes no sense. Neither one of them would have a legal claim to anything from the other. Typically, it’s the biological fathers who freak out because a previously-unknown child has a bunch of estate entitlements, depending on the state. (This type of letter is very common in The Moneyist column.)

        I’m a different type of person than the OP, but if the CEO continues, I’d gently remind HR and him of the GINA Act, and if he continues, I’ll be documenting it. I wouldn’t go anywhere.

        1. londonedit*

          If the CEO is wealthy, I guess maybe he could be scared that the OP will start asking him for money or try to somehow get him to agree to a pay rise or a promotion or something ‘because we’re family’ – lottery winners often struggle with people coming out of the woodwork and asking for handouts, and I don’t know, maybe the CEO is panicking and not thinking any further than ‘well these people better not want anything from me’.

          1. Rosemary*

            I posted before seeing this – this is what I thought, that if there was a will that specifies heirs, someone else does not have a claim to someone’s estate just because they are their child.

        2. Rosemary*

          IANAL but with regards to the estate thing, I thought that if someone explicitly names their heirs in the will – Eg “I leave my estate to be divided equally between my daughter Jane Smith and my son John Smith” versus “I leave my estate to be divided between my children” – someone else couldn’t make a claim (or they could try but would not likely have success)? Obviously if there is no will that is a different story. (But again I am not a lawyer and maybe things vary from state to state)

        3. JSPA*

          Depending how biologically clueless the CEO is, the wording of the notification, and the age differences involved, the CEO may be assuming OP is his offspring, not his half sib. (And wondering exactly what happened that one time he drank too much as a teen and blacked out.) “Did I rape a total stranger when I was 15” could make anyone feel…antsy.

          1. Your local password resetter*

            Still a complete overreeaction though. And as a CEO, he’s supposed to handle difficult situations gracefully.

    2. High Score!*

      This rings true. And people are so hung up on genetics. Sad. To me, family is the people that are there for you always and love you no matter what. Parents are the people who were there for you as a child, fed you, loved you, cared for for you and raised you. Actual blood and genetics can’t hold a candle to that. So if you discover that someone in your family isn’t biologically related to you, it shouldn’t matter. Finding a new person that is biologically related to you might be fun but they aren’t family unless/until you get to know each other and decide that they are.

      1. Cyborg Llama Horde*

        While I agree with your definitions of who is/isn’t family, I can also see that it might be pretty destabilizing to suddenly discover that someone you had always assumed to be biologically related to you was not actually.

    3. EmmaPoet*

      That’s how it came across to me as well. “Proud Texan, born and bred” definitely sounds like he was into family lineage, at least as far as being from Texas. And who knows what happened on the family side. I can sympathize with his shock, but not how he’s handling it.

        1. InsufficentlySubordinate*

          Some people are very caught up on “blood” relations and tie their identity to that. So if the person he thought was his father was a Texan and now “blood” says not, it may throw his whole identity into question as not being Texan (as though Texan was a genetic group).

        2. Artemesia*

          maybe the man he thought was his father descended from the Alamo or some other important Texan — or just an ordinary guy with a long Texan heritage he is proud of. I think the idea that HE would be a jerk if HE were in the OP’s position is the key though; he would be a user so he thinks the OP will be one.

      1. QuinleyThorne*

        As a native Texan I can confirm that the public pride on family values and lineage–particularly Texan lineage, is very much a thing in certain industries here (oil, obvs, but also business, finance, law, and adjacent industries). It’s the kind of thing that if you’re not in those industries, or just not from here, and you think about for more than two seconds it immediately makes you wonder why it is taken so seriously. And honestly, despite having lived here my entire 34 years I still couldn’t tell you definitively why people here think it even matters, other than that it matters a lot, especially to a specific kind of Texan petit bourgeoise (“Jim Adler Texas Hammer” anyone?). My only theory is that it’s tied up in the conservative, Christian values that much of the population adheres to, and the “Everything’s Bigger” level of state pride here. Signaling to both of those things has always been great business, and I can see in my mind’s eye the exact kind of Texas business person for whom this sort of news would be ego death, since it was the foundation upon which they built their business, and now that foundation is cracking.

        1. AnonPi*

          Same in TN. One of my former coworkers who is middle age still won’t say they are from TN because they weren’t born here, they’ve just lived here since they were 3. And yes, it would matter to the community they live in if they dare claimed they were from TN. To be that obsessed where someone was born is ridiculous but there you have it.

        2. Allegra*

          As a Houstonian I am so delighted to see Jim Adler, the Texas Hammer, referenced here. (Especially since, for anyone who moved away in the last fiveish years, his son also works at the firm and is in the commercials now.)

          1. QuinleyThorne*

            that dude is so awkward to watch, he unfortunately just does not have the same charisma lol

        3. Velawciraptor*

          Awww….I moved out of Texas ages ago, but I do delight in the “Jim Adler Texas Hammer” reference.

        4. Teeny-weeny*

          Every time Texas whips out its “Everything’s Bigger in Texas” d*ck, I just hear the entire state of Alaska laughing itself hoarse. (I am not from nor ever been to either state.)

          1. Alaskan Anon For This One Because We Really Do Laugh At Them*

            As someone born and raised in Alaska, I am known to tell “Everything’s Bigger in Texas” Texans that they have a nice little state. I also like to remind them that if we cut Alaska in half, Texas would then be the third largest state.

            Nobody’s punched me- yet. I have gotten some serious huffing and pouting.

      2. know a guy who knew a guy*

        This part reminds me of someone I know who found out about a half-sibling due to DNA tests. New half-sibling was from Texas and upon hearing that his biological father (who conceived him before going on to start a family elsewhere) was Jewish, he stopped responding entirely.

    4. Malarkey01*

      There also is the element of what he’s been told about his parentage over the years. Since he was in the system he most likely already knew that the man who raised him wasn’t his biological father, but you have no idea what he was told about the circumstances of his conception.

      Bio dad’s behavior indicates he probably didn’t know, but for her own reasons mom may have said he abandoned her or even that it wasn’t a completely consensual thing (not completely out of the blue in conservative states for out of wedlock babies or a baby from a marital affair which dad might have been clueless about).

      You don’t know what preconceived ideas boss may have associated with this and not excusing it but his reaction may be driven by some fear, anger, or misplaced confusion.

      1. Olive*

        I want to push back on the speculation that the mother might have given a false narrative “for her own reasons”. There might not be any negative narrative around his conception at all, but if there is, it is just as possible that his biological father wronged her as that she’s making up a story.

        1. Malarkey01*

          Oh absolutely! I was going with the assumption LW raised that dad had signed them all up for this and she didn’t think he’d do that if he had any clue that there was a potential baby out there.

          Just raising the possibility that even if dad and she had a wonderful, fully consensual experience, you have no idea what has or has not been shared with the son which can drive different reactions.

        2. Alaskan Anon For This One Because We Really Do Laugh At Them*

          Yeah, I think we should err on the side of caution here. OP doesn’t know what happened, and neither do we. Making up scenarios that blame CEO’s mom isn’t going to help OP, for whom the point isn’t really relevant to begin with.

      2. Artemesia*

        Seems likely he was the product of a marital affair. If he knew he was adopted then this would not be so earth shattering. It reads like someone who never doubt his Dad was his bioDad and this now is a challenge to his sense of self, his sense of who his mother is and the pain of knowing that Dad is not bio Dad.

        1. Lime green Pacer*

          Could also be that he knew he might have siblings “out there” but is more than a little freaked out to find out that one works for him!

          1. TootsNYC*

            or, he thought his DAD might have sown some seed elsewhere, but was shocked to discover his mom had a sexual past.

        2. Alex*

          I honestly am not sure this is the most likely explanation.

          It’s possible that he was simply raised by a single parent, but is surprised to discover that he has several siblings, one of whom works for his company.

    5. Phony Genius*

      Since he is a CEO and simultaneously proud of his lineage, I wonder if he is worried about being ostracized by his peers if they found out this information. I’m trying hard to avoid the stereotype of Texas businessmen, but it fits here.

      1. Snarkus Aurelius*

        Reminds me of the King of the Hill episode where Hank finds out he was born at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx. He was devastated.

    6. learnedthehardway*

      But the CEO has already outed himself, as the nepotism training was so targeted. It’s pretty clear that the OP’s manager knows what this is about, and that so does HR.

  6. Miss Elaine Yuss*

    I have no helpful advice – I’m just FLOORED at all of it and so sorry you’re going through such a crazy situation. Best of luck, OP!

    1. AGD*

      Same here – this is wild and it absolutely sucks that only you stand to lose something from it, OP. Will be thinking of you.

    2. Kim*

      Came here to echo this. OP, I am so sorry you are going though this, as well as your family. I hope there is a chance, if you and/or your siblings ever want to, to meet CEO as a sibling and I hope this doesn’t poison the well forever.

  7. L-squared*

    Having known a few people who got these DNA bombshells, I kind of sympathize with him. That doesn’t mean I think his reaction is good. But, if you assume he just found something like the person who raised him isn’t his dad, he has multiple other siblings (at least I read it as multiple), and one of them works for him (even if not directly), I completely can understand the urge to try to do “something” to both cover his ass professionally without acknowledging this publicly. I think I’d let this go. Again, this is speaking as someone with friends who both discovered half siblings, and knowing someone else who found out one of their siblings wasn’t a full sibling. Those things can be pretty jarring.

    1. Thatoneoverthere*

      I thought this too. Its possible he didn’t even know and perhaps this stirred up alot of family drama he wasn’t prepared for.

      1. Ginger Baker*

        Or maybe he did know but the circumstances around his conception were Not Good (nonconsensual, or who knows maybe like that one LW who secretly moved out to another country to end a 3-year relationship…), all sorts of things could be The Story and there’s just no way to know.

        1. Malarkey01*

          I said this in another comment but even if it was “good” you have no idea what he’s been told over the years. It’s not unheard in conservative states, especially in earlier times, to claim an unwed baby or affair child was non consensual just to cover the mother from being ostracized. Or she may have said bio dad abandoned them when in truth he didn’t know.

          It’s a really unfortunate situation and while LW is blameless, and boss is out of line, it’s still a person going through something incredibly difficult.

      2. Reality Check*

        I think so. My father was adopted and found his biological siblings when he was an adult. My cousin was a single mom & her child had no contact with her father’s family until she was an adult. The reactions from different family members were WILD in some cases. The crazy part is that the biological relatives in question actually already knew about the existence of the children. I can’t imagine how it would have been if they didn’t know. The CEOs behavior fits in with some of what I saw in my own life. He will most likely recover from the shock eventually. Meanwhile, OP should take steps to protect themselves. I’m sorry you’re going through this OP.

    2. Daisy-dog*

      Yes, I can totally imagine if this letter were written by the CEO. Things he believed to be true were proven otherwise. Discovering a whole new family that he didn’t know existed. General panic leading to making poor decisions.

      I am glad that LW is pretty calm about this.

    3. Loch Lomond*

      Yeah, his professional actions are definitely a bad idea, but this is the kind of thing that is very understandably deeply upsetting or confusing to people. It’s not an overreaction emotionally, it’s just inappropriate to express it at work like this and with OP getting the fallout.

    4. Ormond Sackler*

      I feel for the CEO and I’d imagine if we had his side of the story we’d sympathize more, but man, this is about the worst way possible to handle this.

      I wonder if the CEO reads AAM…CEO, if you’re reading this I think I speak for all of us when I say we’d love to hear your side of things.

      1. Totally Minnie*

        I feel like if the CEO had written in, we’d all be saying stuff like “that’s so hard, I really feel for you, but this was absolutely not the way to go about it and you need to apologize to your employee now. You don’t have to form a sibling relationship with them if you don’t want to but as an employee who has done nothing to you, they deserve better than the way you’re treating them.”

  8. Expelliarmus*

    Oh dear, what a situation. Alison, if the OP starts looking for other jobs and is asked why they want to leave their current job, would “I found out the CEO is related to me” be an acceptable reason, or would they have to be less revealing about that?

    1. metadata minion*

      Unless the job they’re applying to is an obvious step down or something, this seems like a perfect place for the vague “looking for a change/ interested in you Vicuna Curling Project / want to focus more on spelt” answer. Giving anything resembling the real answer is just going to make things weird, and in this case it’s really not necessary.

      1. Your Computer Guy*

        Yeah, after 5 years “it’s time for a change” is a completely reasonable interview answer.
        OP needs to save the insane story for the new job’s holiday party so that they can become a legend (as is tradition).

      2. TomatoSoup*

        Thank you for using the vicuña example. I had to look it up and they are a delightful thing to learn about. Adorable!

    2. DisneyChannelThis*

      When you are job hunting, you want to appear like the perfect worker. For 90% of jobs that means appearing low drama, approachable, easy to work with. If you go with that reason, it’s inviting a lot of drama and gossip. It doesn’t put your best foot forward. Stick to the bland reasons. Besides, “I found out the CEO is related to me” doesn’t actually capture why you want to leave.

      1. irene adler*

        Agree. Not good if employers get a whiff of ‘might be difficult or unreasonable to work with’.

        And, being related to the CEO shouldn’t be an issue; one would have to detail things. Thus leading to drama-if only on the CEO’s part.

    3. EmmaPoet*

      I vote a hard no on that. It brings too much potential drama to an interview. Stick to things like “I’d like to do more Yogurt culturing and you have a good department for that” or “you’re doing great work in Chocolate Teapots and I’m very interested in that.” Anything that makes it about the new company and not the old one’s weirdness.

    4. I am Emily's failing memory*

      When thinking through possible responses to that question, it’s important to keep in mind why interviewers ask it. That is, it’s not an academic curiosity in knowing the true and complete answer, the sort of unspoken/implied question is, “What are you looking for that you’re not getting in your current job and presumably are thinking you might be able to get here?”

      So, this situation with the CEO, is not really useful for interviewers trying to assess fit, because it’s so unlikely it would be relevant in the new workplace. At best it’s an interesting anecdote and the interviewers will think, “Well, that’s certainly not going to a problem here,” but your answer won’t have strengthened your candidacy at all.

      Instead I’d probably say something about having hit a ceiling/limited opportunities to advance at my current company, but still wanting to grow and develop as a professional and looking for opportunities to do that. Assuming that LW does want to advance, the interviewers don’t really need to know that the reason for hitting a ceiling is a bizarre interpersonal weirdness with the CEO – what’s relevant to them is the situation it produced, that the LW feels they have the skills and track record to advance, and they don’t feel they can do so where they are now.

      1. Snow Globe*

        This! There’s nothing about this story that would actually help you when interviewing. This question is not intended to get at all the juicy gossip; just what’s happening with your career that led you to apply for this job?

      2. All Het Up About It*

        When thinking through possible responses to that question, it’s important to keep in mind why interviewers ask it. That is, it’s not an academic curiosity in knowing the true and complete answer, the sort of unspoken/implied question is, “What are you looking for that you’re not getting in your current job and presumably are thinking you might be able to get here?”

        This is such a great summary and why it IS okay to say, “I’m looking for a remote position, because where I’m at now walked back remote capabilities” or “I’m excited by the thought of being on a team of lama groomers opposed to the only one.”

    5. Observer*

      would “I found out the CEO is related to me” be an acceptable reason, or would they have to be less revealing about that

      Less revealing all the way. I’m not even thinking about the moral issues. But just how much unnecessary drama you’re talking about. It’s really not going to be to the OP’s benefit to be remembered as the “the one who turned out to be the CEO’s sibling. And they SAY the the CEO freaked out but I wonder….”

    6. Dona Florinda*

      Nah, OP shouldn’t risk being remembered by drama. “We’re down to three candidates: the one who went to an Ivy League School, the one who worked at Very Successful Company, and the one who found out the CEO was related to him”

    7. Expelliarmus*

      Okay, I see everyone’s points here about not unnecessarily bringing up drama. I was worried that later it could come out somehow that OP was related to the CEO at their previous company and thus make everyone wrongly see their accomplishments there from a nepotism lens, but I realize now that that’s unlikely and the drawbacks of revealing the relationship outweigh the benefits.

  9. Hmmm*

    Wow. I feel like op is being very propane is being discriminated against. While this is a shock to everyone the ceo is making a personal situation something it’s not and is using his power as CEO to control it. I’d still put feelers out but keep your guard up. You e done nothing wrong op.

    Could your father reach out to his former partner to get some clarification?

    1. Army of Robots*

      OP doesn’t think the dad new, and it’s possible the dad doesn’t even know who the CEO’s mother is. A quick fling with someone met at a bar is entirely plausible.

      1. Hlao-roo*

        In addition to your good point, I don’t think OP’s dad reaching out to the CEO’s mom (assuming he knows who she is and can find her contact information) will be taken well by the CEO. He (the CEO) very clearly does not want contact with the OP right now (he blocked the OP on social media) so the OP reaching out through back channels will not improve the situation.

    2. Hmmm*

      * where the heck did my spellcheck make professional to be propane

      Op you are being very professional is what the line should have read

      1. Butterfly Counter*

        Thank you for clarifying! I knew you didn’t mean “propane,” but it was killing me trying to guess what it autocorrected from. I was guessing “proper.”

    3. Observer*

      Could your father reach out to his former partner to get some clarification?

      I cannot think of a single scenario where this works well. And that assumes, as others have noted, that Dad actually knows the mother, much less how to contact her.

    4. Hmmm*

      Hey all my comment for the dad reaching out to his former partner was meant for the dads closure. He seemed just as surprised as op and the ceo. He deserved answers too. I did NOT mean it as a solution for iOS situation but my thinking was ceos mom could clear up a lot of questions from all three parties but I admit it gets into a gray area of business and personal from ops point of view.

  10. KHB*

    The law is on your side here, so I would not take this lying down. You’re being subject to harassment based on a protected characteristic, which (as I understand it) makes this one of the rare instances of an actual hostile work environment.

    I don’t know the best way out of this. But document everything, just in case.

    1. Observer*

      What protected characteristic?

      I’m not sure if GINA applies here, but if it does, it’s not because of any protected characteristic. Otherwise, most actual nepotism polices would be illegal.

      1. KHB*

        Maybe “protected characteristic” was the wrong word, but I’m obviously referring to the genetic information itself, which is protected under GINA.

        From the bottom of the page Alison linked:

        “GINA also prohibits harassment on the basis of genetic information, such as offensive and derogatory comments about an individual’s genetic information that are sufficiently severe or pervasive to create a hostile work environment.”

        I’m not a lawyer, but if I were, I’d argue that this is a separate issue from run-of-the-mill nepotism. Nepotism refers to favoritism based on familial ties, and it isn’t limited to genetic relatives. Here, OP and the CEO don’t have and never have had a familial tie (i.e., they’ve never regarded one another as family) – only a genetic tie.

        1. ecnaseener*

          Maybe if it continues it could reach the point of harassment, but a generic nepotism training (and the manager asking if LW has questions) probably wouldn’t meet the bar of offensive, derogatory, or severe.

      2. Clisby*

        Yeah, I could be completely off base but I thought GINA was to protect people against discrimination based on genetic testing (like if it turned out someone had a gene indicating a higher risk of some disease). Not that you share genes with someone.

        1. Nina*

          What the law was meant to do and what the wording of the law actually allows a sufficiently competent lawyer to do can be and often are completely different things.

          1. Iris Eyes*

            And why shouldn’t it be something that would be covered? I mean someone shouldn’t face workplace discrimination based on being Stalin’s second cousin or something.

    2. Artemesia*

      While job searching is the right direction, I would be keeping meticulous records about all this including the one on one counseling ONLY you got. Document this now. Make copies of all related emails which keep out of the office. Be prepared to bring the house down if he attempts to push you out or otherwise damage you.

  11. Army of Robots*

    I would absolutely go with option 3, simply because I would want the paper trail to cover me. If dude didn’t want news to get out, he shouldn’t have started a campaign of preemptive retaliation.

    1. Just Another Zebra*

      I’m inclined to agree. The CEO isn’t someone OP has a close or frequent business relationship with. I think a note would only fuel the CEO’s anxiety about all this. And doing nothing seems could work, but I think the CEO’s reaction to all this is very indicative that OP’s job is not safe. I think a meeting with HR to CYA is warranted. They may want you to sign something that you won’t pursue special privileges / requests, and if they do I’d insist on adding that you won’t be penalized in the normal course of business, like being passed over for promotion.

      In any event, I think any choice is a stop-gap, and you really should look to move on.

    2. Empress Matilda*

      This is where I land as well. I wouldn’t ask for – or expect – a response from the CEO, but I would feel better having my own reaction documented. (Don’t forget to BCC your personal email, or print a copy and keep it at home!)

      Also yes to the job searching. Because even if he does chill out in time, he’s always going to be the guy who had this weird over-the-top reaction. You and I are different people, but I know I wouldn’t ever be able to trust that it won’t come up again.

      Good luck!

    3. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

      Yes, I was going to say that I think he already may be discriminating against her by blocking her on LinkedIn if he’s not blocking other employees.

    4. Mark This Confidential And Leave It Laying Around*

      Ah, that’s the phrase: “preemptive retaliation.” I have a lot of sympathy for the CEO’s freak out, but he’s clearly not above using his power against his half-sibling in Marketing. One calm, factual, “I just need to document this” conversation with HR should do it. And then start job-hunting.

      1. Curmudgeon in California (they/them)*

        Yeah, if it was me in the CEOs position, I would be thinking “Oh, that’s why the Marketing person is so good – they are related to me!”

        I know I’m not my rearing father’s child, but he’s still my dad. So I don’t have any hangups about it. Apparently the CEO, in spite of knowing that his bio father wasn’t his rearing father (assuming his mom told him), is freaked out by the concept of half siblings, and is taking it out on one who happens to work for him. What a garbage person.

  12. HildaB*

    Is it possible that the CEO thought you already knew about the relationship and were using the DNA site as an oblique way to let him know? Perhaps thinking, you wanted something from it? Otherwise I’m struggling to understand his nepotism (over)reaction.

    1. Butterfly Counter*

      I wonder if, being the CEO, he’s pretty well-off and is thinking of family “coming out of the woodwork” to ask for money, similar to issues surrounding people who have won the lottery.

      I wonder if he’s already had issue of family hitting him up for being successful in business and he’s used to family treating the relationship as transactional, so he’s having this extreme reaction.

      1. Artemesia*

        A sibling has zero claim on someone’s wealth even if there were no will, his wife and children would be the heirs. And with a will which any sensible CEO has, there would be zero issues. It isn’t like she is his daughter where he might fear financial claims (again which could be mitigated with a will)

        1. Butterfly Counter*

          I’m more referring to *asking* for money on the basis of “family helps family” issues the CEO might have had thus far, versus anything that happens after the CEO dies.

        2. Red*

          Especially as OP’s father presumably isn’t his legal father – DNA means nothing legally, if birth documents don’t reflect that.

          That being said, I do think the CEO is likely panicking because the man he’s presumably called father isn’t actually his biological dad and, to make things even weirder, his half-sibling works for him. I do a lot of genealogy and it’s so common for people to freak out when they get unexpected results, especially when it comes to parents.

          I’d give him time to process what’s happened, send him a note saying whatever happens is on his terms and that the rest of your family agrees with that, and gently remind HR they can’t discriminate based on DNA.

      2. ecnaseener*

        It’s just such a weird reaction, because the anti-nepotism policy at work would have nothing to do with any claims on his personal wealth.

    2. Janeric*

      OP might want to see if anyone on her end has reached out to him — it’s possible his startle response is from actions her family has taken in response to the news.

      1. Janeric*

        Also, OP, did your DAD take the test? Or is it just you and your siblings? Because while the story of the relationship may be clear to you, your CEO may perceive you and your siblings as the biological children of the father who raised him.

  13. Prospect Gone Bad*

    Preliminary question – are you 100% the results mean you are siblings. I have ancestry saying I am nationalities I definitely am not and having one cousin as barely related and another cousin as sharing a huge amount of DNA. Not sure if these patterns are the same for siblings. If this story is older (we’ve had many cases where OP then admits the story was old and they just wanted the reaction), the results can be really off, as the results are getting more refined as more people take the tests in general. But they used to be really off. As in, nationalities were completely wrong and it used to not say I was related to 2nd cousins.

    1. SusieQ*

      Genealogist here!
      DNA tests give results on how much of your DNA is shared with other people who also have taken a test. These results are 100% accurate.
      You share 50% of your DNA with both of your parents, around 25% with a sibling and 12,5% with a half sibling.
      How much cousins and second cousins have in common can vary greatly, depending on which parts of your grandparents DNA you have inherited.
      Also if the grandparents, G grandparents etc are related to each other. If there are common ancestors you usually share more DNA than cousins in general do. If that’s the case the test result makes it look like you are more closely related than you actually are.

      1. But Not the Hippopotamus*

        Those are averages. They can be quite different since we only get half of each parent’s DNA (w have two copies total of each piece, one from each parent).

        Imagine siblings. Sibling 1 gets the mom’s mom’s copy of DNA and sibling 2gets mom’s dad’s copy. Repeat with the dad’s DNA and they have zero DNA identical by descent. That is incredibly unlikely, but still possible and makes a good illustration of why the results can vary. Now if there are three siblings, you’ll be able to see it. That’s how results improve over time, in part.

        1. Roland*

          Having enough DNA in common with an unrelated person that you’re flagged as half-siblings sounds vanishingly unlikely. This isn’t high school bio punnet squares with 2 genes with 2 variations each.

          1. But Not the Hippopotamus*


            I was specifically commenting in regard to the percentages SusieQ listed and to the Prospect Gone Bad’s comments about “one cousin as barely related and another cousin as sharing a huge amount of DNA.” My comment should not be taken to say that the results of OPs test were false, but rather as a possible explanation for Prospect Gone Bad’s experience and adding detail to what SusieQ pointed out.

      2. ThursdaysGeek*

        I and a niece gave my dad the gift of a DNA test around the same time. But we used different companies. If the results are 100% accurate, why were the results different? They were mostly kind of similar, but that’s about all.

        1. Kalros, the mother of all thresher maws*

          Assuming you got the gift for regional ancestry, that’s much more interpretive than identifying immediate genetic relations.

          There are always exceptions and unusual cases – if two sets of twins marry each other, their children who are cousins will be genetic siblings, for example – and it’s true that the genetic contribution from each parent can be more like 52/48 than 50/50, which leads to a lot of variation in how closely related, say, second cousins will be. But the odds of identifying a paternal half-sibling as a fluke are low.

          1. bishbah*

            My grandfather had three “three-quarter siblings” due to his widower father marrying his wife’s sister. All the percentages with my cousins and cousins-removed on that side are screwy as a result…

        1. BubbleTea*

          I’d have closer to 20% to my first cousins, I’m guessing, as our mothers are identical twins.

      3. jj*

        Genuinely not trying to be rude, but full siblings on average share 50% not 25%. Unlike parents where it literally must be half because that’s what reproduction is, siblings could in theory be anywhere from 0-100, but the extreme ends are so unlikely as to be impossible (with the exception of identical twins).

        What two siblings have 25% of, is, on average, overlap with the parent. So, me and my sister and my dad have about 25% if each of our genetics that we all three share. My sister and my dad overlap and additional 25% I don’t, and my dad and I overlap an additional 25% she doesn’t. (All on average, not usually so exact.) The same would happen with me, my sister and my mother. Because my sister and I and my dad have 25% all in common, and my sister and I and my mother all have 25% in common, my sister and I ourselves between each other have 50% in common.

    2. Rosemary*

      “I have ancestry saying I am nationalities I definitely am not” – I am curious, how do you definitely know that you are not these nationalities?

      1. Prospect Gone Bad*

        If the test was 100% correct, scenarios like someone coming from Sweden to a small Balkan town back before we emmigrated in the horse and buggy days stuff needed to have happened. So I have no solid proof they are wrong, but some of them are highly unlikely.

        More convincing to me was how 2nd and 3rd cousins would randomly appear as not related and very related.

        All results are becoming more accurate as time goes on though.

        1. Reluctant Brarista*

          Why do you think that’s unlikely? It’s extremely common for people from all over Europe (and a reasonable chunk of Central Asia) to have at least a small amount of Viking heritage. They traveled extensively as traders as well as settling in parts of Europe as widespread as eastern Russia and Southern Italy
          A fun fact is that the most common inscription found on silver coins in Viking hoards (in the expected Scandinavian and colony countries) is “there is no god but Allah” because they did so much trading with the Middle East

      2. EC*

        For me, we have actual documentation going back centuries about my family and exactly where they came from. If a test said we were some other nationality, I would know with certainty that it was wrong about that.

        The nationality results are also based on loose population gene averages that can change over time and might be completely inaccurate because not all people in Country A will have the same genetic profile.

        1. BubbleTea*

          Only if everyone was actually the parent/child of who they thought they were, surely? Which as we have seen in this letter isn’t always the case.

    3. SingingInTheRain*

      Hi! My father was adopted and we did a DNA test to help him learn more about his bio family. I had the same questions as you and had to learn all of this!

      The ethnicity estimates are just that – estimates. It’s a completely different science to the cousin matches. They basically compare your DNA to the DNA of people currently living in those regions (called reference mathces) and make an estimate based off of the similarity of your DNA to the reference matches. That’s why those estimates change as they get more data. It’s to be taken with a grain of salt.

      The cousin matches are a different beast. Here, they’re looking for identical DNA segments and measure this using centimorgans. For close relatives like parents, siblings, grandparents, 1st and 2nd cousins, this is extremely accurate, with around 100% accuracy for immediate family and then 99% accuracy for 2nd cousins. They can predict 3rd cousins with about 90% accuracy and it goes down from there as the relationships get farther apart.

      Now, you will not share the same exact amount of centirmorgans with each individual relative, even if you have the same relation to them. Siblings can share anywhere from 2209 – 3384 centimorgans while half siblings might share anywhere from 1317 – 2312. Compared to first cousins, who might share 553-1225 and then 2nd cousins who are at 46 – 515 centimorgans. So with each separation of degrees, the centimorgans shared reduces significantly.

      There is some overlap between certain familial relations, but if this person shares the average amount of centimorgans with their boss for a half sibling – around 1780 – that’s a close relative no matter how you shake it. That’s either a half sibling, a grandparent or an aunt/uncle, niece/nephew. Through other DNA matches, you can usually determine through which parent the person is related and then use their age to figure out the likely relationship.

    4. Oxford Comma*

      As someone who has done genealogy for years, I can tell you a few things:

      1.The ethnicities are generally accurate unless you’re looking at outliers (e.g. they have you as 3% Chinese, 1% Finnish. That’s likely “noise”) or it’s something not very well represented in the reference populations (e.g. First Nations). Also, over time as the reference populations have been refined, the estimates have grown in accuracy. Maybe your test was from 15 years ago and if you went back, the ethnicities would be adjusted and more accurate.

      2. The rest of it is looking at probabilities and shared genetic materials which is called shared CM. For certain ethnic groups, these can be off because of factors like endogamy (Ashkenazi Jews, French Acadians are examples of ethnic groups that had a lot of that). It’s much harder to sort out how you are related if you’re dealing with that.

      But at a certain point when the amount of shared CM is big, the chance of it being wrong, is really unlikely. You can go to sites like DNA painter (which I will link in a reply) and enter in the amount of shared CM and it will give you a list of possibilities. And you can start eliminating based on ages. So if I share 1500 cm with a match, the most likely choices would be: Grandparent, Aunt/Uncle, Half Sibling, Niece/Nephew, Grandchild . If my match is around my age, I know it’s not a grandparent for instance.

      3. So much of what we are told through word of mouth is often wrong or we misheard or there’s been some embroidering. I grew up being told that a great grandfather came up the New Orleans in his own boat. My relatives still repeat this story. I can tell you from having gotten his immigration application and other documents that this was so not what happened. Consequently it is very possible to find out that what you thought was true is not and that can be upsetting to some.

      1. A Teacher*

        Same. We found out that my Dad’s maternal family is not actually as French as we found but rather the name is Irish and as I am tracing all of the geneology out there–and there’s a lot of it on that side, we can get back to Elizabeth I, he is a direct descendent from that branch of the Boylen family. His family has some French connections but is not French in nature. Geneology is odd. Some family links take you really far back and yet on his Mom’s dad side, I’ve dead ended 3 generations in–I can find nothing.

      2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        I got 80% X and 16% Y. Totally accurate. I tell people that my DNA test was the most money I ever paid to be told something I already knew. I did not pay much attention to the remaining 4% and assumed it to be noise.

        I admit that I am still kind of curious – why 80% when three out of my four grandparents were X? Why not 75? Does this mean that my Y side of the family has some X in them that they never talked about, or is that more noise of the “3% Chinese, 1% Finnish” nature? (Moderately important to me, because the Y side of family, reportedly, did not like X and did not approve of their son’s marriage to an X.)

        1. jj*

          It’s more likely that you didn’t get exactly a quarter from each Grandparent. So your mother has two parents, A and B. All of her genetics are either A or B. When she passes on to you, you get half of hers, but there’s no guarantee it’ll be a perfect split. Her body is not noticing which genetics originally came from which parent and splitting them exactly in half. So you kigut yet 30% A, and 20% B. Or something like that.

    5. JQWADDLE*

      There is a really interesting news story from 2019 regarding DNA tests. Two identical twins take several different DNA tests – so each woman took a test for Ancestry, 23andMe, etc. Then they compared their results thinking as identical twins who share 99% of their DNA, the DNA test should have the same or very similar outcomes. They are matched as relatives on each test but the ethnicity results were all over the place – even within the same company. They explain why the results are different too. It is a good watch.

      You can find the video on YouTube – titled “Twins get ‘mystifying’ DNA ancestery test results (Marketplace)” by CBC News.

  14. bunniferous*

    I was on the receiving end of one of those bombshells a few years ago. It’s hard to overstate the shock of finding out your dad is not your dad.

    I wouldn’t send the note, or at least not yet. He is still processing what he found out. It took me a year, and based on the conversations in a private online group I’m in, that’s typical.

    I would do what Alison suggested but I wouldn’t feel pressure to leave immediately. I would see how you are treated from here on out…. it’s possible things could die down or even that eventually he reaches out to you or your dad. It is also possible he might not….but bear in mind that what he doesn’t want is for this to become public knowledge right now and if he messes with you too much that is exactly what he would be risking.

    1. Quinalla*

      I agree on start to put out feelers but also not feel like you are going to have to leave immediately. I am hopeful this will die down and be fine, but it may not be. Better to start looking just in case.

      I am glad I’ve never been part of one of these DNA test bombshells. I am sympathetic to the CEO, but this is a huge and weird overreaction.

      And I also agree about not sending a note right now as I think it will just poke the bear and with him blocking you and your family everywhere, I think that is clear sign he is putting up boundaries around this topic. I would respect that unless you get pulled in for another 1 on 1 or your or your team have to take more training, etc. If it doesn’t come up again, I would leave it alone and see how things play out.

      1. Cmdrshpard*

        I took a DNA test I was more interested in the ancestry portion, I specifically opted out of the sharing, and linking portion of the test to avoid ” one of these DNA test bombshells.”

        Ignorance is bliss…..

    2. C in the Hood*

      This is the best answer. Do NOT send this guy a note. Be your best professional self. Do make HR aware of that GINA law while saying you agree with the “no nepotism” stance.

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        Agree with all of this. I am strongly against a note. There is nothing about blocking someone *and their entire family* on social media that says “I will react calmly and rationally if you send me a note”. To me it says “do not contact me ever”.

    3. MissAnon*

      Came here to say something similar. However, I’m on the other end. I had a dad out somewhere in the ether and I took a DNA test to find him. After I was able to figure out who he was (after deliberately trying to do so), I ended up needing working with a therapist for 2 years to try to wrap my head around finally knowing the answer to this life long question and what to do with the information.

      If this CEO knew his bio dad was a question mark and this information was foist upon him not without him choosing to learn it… I could imagine that would be an extremely jarring thing to take on all while in a pretty public leadership role. (It can be extremely scary to not know what the other parties are going to do with this information, how they’re going to react/treat you, what they might tangibly expect from you, AND I think it goes without saying people can be EXTREMELY judgy about this sort of thing. At least, that has very much been my experience with all of this).

      1. L-squared*

        Right. I know we tend to sympathize more with the letter writer, but I feel people are very much minimizing how much of a shock this probably was. Yes, this is a CEO, but he just got a life shattering bit of news. He isn’t handling it well, but I think he doesn’t deserve some of the scorn he is getting either.

        1. Observer*

          I don’t think that people are minimizing this.

          What people are pointing out is that no matter how shocking this is, the CEO’s reaction is hugely unfair to the OP. And the OP may unfortunately need to find a new job over something that they had no control over.

        2. triplehiccup*

          The greater your power, the more important it is you treat someone appropriately, regardless of your feelings. Self-control and discernment is part of the job. He can work out his feelings in therapy or one of those places where you pay to smash a roomful of pottery.

      2. Cj*

        But the information wasn’t foist upon him. The CEO obviously had also taken a DNA test, and he had to opt in order to see results.

        1. L-squared*

          Yes, but this may have been more that he thought he would find some distant cousins or something. I have a cousin who has been put in touch with more distant relatives through those sites, and he loves it. But that doesn’t mean he would have ever assumed his father wasn’t actually his biological father.

          People do these DNA/Ancestry kits for all types of reasons. I think many people are assuming that he would only do this if he had suspicions, but that just isn’t always true

        2. bunniferous*

          When I took my dna test I was trying to clarify who my mother’s bio dad was between two options and had no idea whatsoever that I was going to find out what I found out about my own. It is absolutely earth shattering in a way I don’t think anyone can truly grasp without having the experience yourself. If the CEO was blindsided as I was-and had the extra added shock of a halfbrother at his own company-I can at least understand the behavior even if I know it’s unfair to OP. (I did find out who my mom’s dad was btw and it was a third person. Oy!)

    4. Cj*

      Since the CEO had done DNA test also, it’s unlikely he didn’t know the dad who raised him wasn’t his biological father until now. Which makes his response all the more baffling.

      1. L-squared*

        Not really. Again, I know someone who found out their brother was actually their half brother because of one of these. Often these are done more as “ancestry” type things. But when the 2 siblings came back very different, there were a lot of questions the mom had to answer. And these people found out as adults.

        1. I am Emily's failing memory*

          I think Cj means if his dad wasn’t really his dad, his own DNA results likely revealed that before he later got pinged about the half-sibling match.

            1. Oxford Comma*

              But the CEO is going to see the results from the OP’s biological father as well as the OP and their siblings. And that would be conclusive even if all the huge hits to the half siblings weren’t enough to convince him.

      2. Troutwaxer*

        This. I wonder whether what’s happening is more fallout from “My father isn’t my father?!?!” than anything else.

      3. Grandma*

        That assumes Dad also did a DNA test. Many people don’t do DNA tests, not because they know there’s something they’d rather keep secret, but because they don’t “believe” in it, don’t want to be in a database, or whatever.

      4. Lurky McLurkface*

        Not necessarily; maybe CEO is planning to start a family and just wanted to find out if he’s a carrier for cystic fibrosis or other genetic conditions, and then he got blindsided by the revelation that his dad isn’t really his dad. He’s being unfair to the LW, but he’s also had a major bombshell dropped on him and that’s why he’s not his best self right now.

        LW, keep your head down, don’t say anything, and start looking for a new job. The best thing you can do for everyone – especially yourself – is to get the heck out of there.

    5. Sun and clouds*

      I think this is akin to having a webcam mishap or seeing a coworker at, say, a sex club where the very personal accidentally intersects with the professional and the best thing to do is nothing. Nobody saw anything. It didn’t happen and is never referred to again. And everyone goes back to their normal working relationships.

      1. L-squared*

        I don’t think you can really do that, especially when this is a work chain of command thing. We have heard from OP, so we have an idea about her mindset. Unfortunately, everyone isn’t like that. Its not out of the realm of possibility that someone else could get this information and try to use it to further their career.

      2. Gumby*

        This *could* have happened, and indeed might have, had the CEO not immediately jumped to abuse his power by sending OP’s team to training they didn’t need and involving OP’s manager in what should have been none of her (manager’s) business. I get that it was a shock, but if your first reaction to shock is to not just assume bad intentions on the part of an employee you barely know but also involve their team and manager…. the ship has sailed on the whole “let’s pretend nobody saw anything” thing. I am not suggesting OP spread news of their genetic relationship wide and far but, frankly, the CEO started that.

  15. Captain Awkward*

    We truly live in the future!

    The CEO is going so overboard about this that personally I would not send a note or acknowledge it in any way beyond documenting the heck out of the emails, manager meetings, forced training, etc. in case it gets even weirder. It’s not the LW’s job to try to proactively set this guy’s mind at ease or avoid non-existent nepotism, especially when he’s the only one making it an issue at work. If it quietly blows over, great! If it doesn’t, quietly job-hunting will serve the LW well, and being able to honestly say “Far from seeking special favors, I’ve literally never brought it up with him, as I firmly believe private medical and family matters have no bearing on work” might be an asset if it comes to an actual HR or legal dispute. I’d also say nothing to colleagues and let management explain why your office has to do special training so you can’t be on the hook for spreading “gossip.” Let all the weirdness stay on his side of the family tree!

    1. Wine not Whine*

      This is the direction in which I’m leaning as well. Document all the stupid reactionary crap (thoroughly!), but don’t initiate ANYTHING having to do with it. That makes it clear, if it comes up in any context, that it’s the CEO pushing the issue and not OP.
      And, yeah, start working on getting the heck out of there. “It’s time for a change,” indeed.

      1. Lizzo*

        +1 to documenting the heck outta all these strange interactions to CYA (timestamped emails from yourself to yourself at your home email address, for example), and in the meantime maintain your professionalism and continue to do good work. He’s understandably had a shock that he is not reacting well to, but let him be the one who is out of line. Stay disengaged from the drama, otherwise he’s likely to use any communication from you as “proof” that you are out to get him.

    2. Observer*

      It’s not the LW’s job to try to proactively set this guy’s mind at ease or avoid non-existent nepotism,

      The question is not what the OP is morally obliged to do, but what will provide the best outcomes.

      If the OP had a way to reassure the CEO, it would absolutely be in their best interests to do so. The problem is that it’s not clear that such a way exists.

      I’d also say nothing to colleagues and let management explain why your office has to do special training so you can’t be on the hook for spreading “gossip.” Let all the weirdness stay on his side of the family tree!


  16. ColonelGateway*

    The targeted training feels so strange. What if LW changes branches? Will they all have to do it, too?

    1. fhqwhgads*

      Probably not since the point was to make sure LW “got told” and that message was already very sent.

  17. A Simple Narwhal*

    Could this be brought up as a reason to be job-hunting, or is this a TMI reason that could somehow reflect poorly on the LW? They said they’ve been at the company for 5 years so it wouldn’t be impossible to just use the generic “ready for something new” excuse, but it seems lousy to have to leave a job they presumably like due to a bananacrackers situation outside their control and also have to pretend it didn’t happen.

    And maybe sharing this crazy situation might head off anything the CEO might do to poison the well? I’m hoping they would see that LW trying to leave would be in their best interest, but they’re already acting out of sorts so I wouldn’t completely rule anything out.

    1. EmmaPoet*

      It may be why LW is job hunting, but it’s TMI for an interviewer who doesn’t know LW or even one who does.

      1. A Simple Narwhal*

        It’s true and you’re right, I think I just feel bad that the LW is in a problem not of their making and was hoping for a solution that didn’t also involve them essentially covering for someone else’s objectively bad behavior.

        But I suppose this is no different than job hunting to get away from a bad boss.

        1. EmmaPoet*

          It does suck for LW, and I certainly sympathize with the desire to say something about it in an interview. However, when you’re applying for a job, telling the interviewer about work problems that are making you job hunt means they can’t be sure who the problematic one actually is, and you have no control how they will react to this.

          I used to be on an etiquette message board and still remember the person who posted about trying to apply for new jobs and how she’d tell the interviewer why she wanted to leave the old one in gory detail, but somehow she never got past the interview stage, why was that? We all collectively facepalmed and tried to explain that the interviewer doesn’t know you, all they have to go on is your resume and your interview. If you spend ten minutes telling them all about your workplace drama (and in her case, we all knew she was definitely part of the petty drama because she’d been posting about it on the board for months) then what they’ve learned about you is you’re not discreet, and you seem to be a magnet for issues. They may sensibly decide that you’re a troublemaker.

    2. Avery*

      I like the advice I read above of OP saying that they’ve hit a ceiling at their current job and want a company where they can progress further… without explaining the drama behind WHY they can’t progress further at their current job.

      1. londonedit*

        Yes, me too. I think ‘limited opportunities to advance’ is a very elegant way of putting it – employers don’t want or need to know the drama behind that. Going into the whole thing with the CEO is definitely TMI, I think, and it might cause employers to question the OP’s judgement, as it’s not something you’d routinely bring up in an interview.

    3. TomatoSoup*

      If the CEO wants to put up boundaries with OP, I imagine he’d want OP to work elsewhere and not interfere with OP leaving.

      I don’t think it is so bad to give a bland answer to questions about why you’re leaving. I wouldn’t be surprised if at least half of applicants have a much spicier reason for leaving than “opportunities for growth” or whatever. To someone who doesn’t know the applicant or their workplace, it might come off as whiny or that OP-caused the drama. This isn’t a fair assumption, but it happens. Unless you just moved or graduated, this question is an opportunity to give a super brief answer of why you want that job or to work at that company.

    4. Observer*

      Could this be brought up as a reason to be job-hunting, or is this a TMI reason that could somehow reflect poorly on the LW?

      WAAAAY TMI. Also, way too much drama. And someone who doesn’t know the OP might wonder if the OP is REALLY “completely innocent”. Especially if they happen to know the CEO (personally, professionally or by reputation) and thinks that he’s a generally reasonable person.

      And maybe sharing this crazy situation might head off anything the CEO might do to poison the well?

      Far from it. Sharing this information could do the reverse. It could make the OP look like they don’t know how to be discreet about sensitive information that affects others. It could also make it look like they are actually trying to trade on the relationship.

      We all understand that neither thing is the case. But someone who is just doing an interview has no way to know this.

  18. Not Mindy*

    My initial thought was that the CEO got this news, didn’t know how to handle it, went to HR to discuss it (which I think would be appropriate), and then HR led the no-nepotism/block contact brigade.

    If it weren’t for the fact that the training was only done for one office, I wouldn’t have had a huge problem with the fact that policy was changed.

    1. Cmdrshpard*

      “If it weren’t for the fact that the training was only done for one office,”

      I don’t know that doing it for just one office is really that big of a problem/issue? If a specific office was having problems with dress code or other policy expense reports, it would seem like more of an overreaction to have the entire company do a dress code/expense report training.

      I get that OP has not done anything wrong, that is why I think having a general training for the entire office was the better call versus, having just OP do it specifically.

      I do think that the 1 on 1 with OP was a bit over the top, but better to make things very clear.

      1. Warrior Princess Xena*

        I’d say the key problem is that, at least based on their letter, OP has done nothing to be accused of nepotism beyond finding out that they happen to be related to the CEO. Just being related to other people in your company is not nepotism. Ideally HR should have done nothing unless and until OP made any move that could be perceived as nepotism, or have a meeting on any new restrictions in place as a result of company policy that they now realize applies to OP (maybe they have policies on family members as subordinates/supervisors? that wouldn’t be uncommon).

        That would still not be a fun meeting, and OP might still come out of it wanting to find a different job, but it wouldn’t be penalizing. Giving training on actions not yet done is penalizing.

        1. Cmdrshpard*

          “Giving training on actions not yet done is penalizing.”

          I have to strongly disagree. Trainings/refreshers are done so often on on various topics in many companies/industries. “An ounce of prevention is worth more than pound of cure.”

          I take anti-harassments trainings, proper procedure trainings on things I have never done wrong.

          One of the biggest complaints is that companies are often not proactive enough in trying to combat x bad behavior, and instead wait until a person does something bad.

          Having OP do the training isn’t some scarlet letter saying they are a bad person who is definitely going to try to use nepotism to their advantage, I see it as now that we know this relationship/connection exists here is what we need to be aware of.

          Before OP might have asked for a favor of the CEO that would have been fine, but now that they know about the relationship/connection it can come off differently like a special favor. Sometimes the appearance of impropriety is enough to want to be prevented even if nothing bad is actually happening.

          1. Tupac Coachella*

            I’d agree with this-handled the right way this sounds appropriate to me. “The right way” is the hard part. Assuming that HR knew with absolute certainty that this isn’t news to OP as well, it could be appropriate to say “we’ve became aware that you and CEO have a family relationship as defined in our nepotism policy, so we need to make sure you’ve had the required training and know where to find information if you have any questions about the policy.” If I were OP I’d be questioning whether I wanted to stay there, if for no other reason than because several people got this cagey at just the whisper of the potential for a problem.

          2. Allonge*

            I totally agree with this. To be honest if the training and the awkward discussion with manager was guaranteed to be the whole outcome, I would say this went better than it could have, even if CEO freaked.

            Making a department or whatever re-take a training that exists anyway is nowhere near harrassment, even if it’s targeted.

            Now, do I think it’s going to work out better for everyone if OP job searches? Sure. But to be honest that would be the case even if CEO invited OP to a family get-together instead of this. Sometimes our parents just **** us up, and that has unexpected outcomes.

    2. Ellis Bell*

      This actually sounds really likely to me. Boss knows he is in shock, and wants the advice of his HR people about what to do. HR people go a bit OTT because it’s not a typical situation, and they don’t want to let down the big boss who has specifically come to them with this issue. If only people knew how very often doing less actually achieves more! The only piece that doesn’t fit is the big boss blocking OP on all platforms. Of course it could equally all just be driven by the boss being spooked and assuming the worst.

      1. Allonge*

        Blocking people on social media is somehow both underrated and overdramatised. People should block others more often.

        If this is in any way painful for CEO, blocking’s a perfectly reasonable step to take that is very unlikely to negatively impact OP, but gives CEO some peace of mind. Also can be undone if/when things calm down.

          1. Ellis Bell*

            No, totally get you what you mean about blocking actually. It may be way less dramatic than it appears. Or the big boss simply hasn’t thought about how it appears.

    3. Oxford Comma*

      Or CEO told his partner, or some of his family, or close friend(s) and they all convinced him that he needed to protect himself. We don’t know.

      I personally think Option 3 with starting to look for a new job is the best bet for the OP.

  19. Playing With Puppies And Kittens All Day*

    Oof. I’m sorry to the LW that you’re having to deal with this!

    Selfishly, I feel like this situation could make an amazing and entertaining lawsuit. But practically, I think your best bet is to do and say nothing and wait a bit to see if the CEO continues to behave this way. I’m not sure I would reach out directly just yet – it seems like it might be unwelcome?

    1. ecnaseener*

      What would the lawsuit even be about? It’s not illegal to make someone sit through nepotism training.

  20. Lisa Simpson*

    Send the CEO an email with the see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil emojis as the only text in the body of the message. And maybe the zipped lip emoji for good measure.

    1. Avery*

      It’s a funny mental image, but I think it’s way too open to interpretation without any actual text in the message. For instance, I could see it being read as “you, the CEO, shouldn’t talk about this Or Else” instead of the presumably-intended “I’m not talking about it, you’re not talking about it, it’s our secret.”

      1. Allonge*

        Yes, this is NOT the time to communicate in emojis, or in any other way than clear words (or silence).

  21. KatEnigma*

    Start job hunting. Companies alllll over the US are laying people off right now, and with that unexpected DNA test and his very pointed signalling you out in the middle of his freak out, you clearly went right to the top of the expendable list. You’d never be able to prove it was because of the DNA, though.

  22. Looper*

    Do nothing and pretend it never happened. The CEO is clearly not acting rationally and nothing will be gained by making your point, even though you’re correct in your feelings. I would also keep my resume up to date were I in your position as this situation may escalate depending on your CEO’s mindset.

  23. Silver Robin*

    I definitely am the type of person who would want to send a note.

    That said, if the CEO is fully within the shock/fear/anxiety/anger/suspicious part of their response, then there is a chance the note could come across as backpedaling. CEO could see this as: obviously OP would use this info to gain something, CEO took steps to prevent that, and now OP sends a note claiming that had never been their intent.

    I still think a note is a good call. Gently and kindly worded. I only bring this up because this is a possible reason the note might not help. I do not think it is a good enough reason not to send one, but the CEO might ignore it.

    1. cmcinnyc*

      I am firmly against the idea of sending a note only because the CEO has blocked OP on social media/LinkedIn. I’m afraid the CEO would see any communication as a boundary violation and overreact. This is a guy who overreacts.

      A friend once read me a note she got from an estranged friend. My friend was OUTRAGED at everything her ex-friend wrote and clearly thought I would feel the same way. It was not remotely outrageous, rude, accusatory–to me, who didn’t know the writer at all, it seemed very nice! Whatever happened between the two so colored my friend’s reaction that she couldn’t see anything else.

      1. Silver Robin*

        I definitely see that. And, there is absolutely an argument that a boundary has been clearly drawn which OP should respect.

        But on the other hand, zero actual communication has been attempted and the CEO is making bizarre, insulting assumptions. To draw a parallel with your example, you thought the ex-friend sounded fine. Third parties might say the same of OP. The note can be there as a paper trail showing good faith in case this escalates somehow.

        There is also value in clearly stating that a person’s assumptions about one were wrong, even if only as closure. Because yes, the CEO is acting out of line so at this point OP’s actions need to be about what makes them feel safe/heard/secure and not about appeasing the CEO.

      2. tamarack etc.*

        Yeah, I’m with cmcinnyc. The OP has no particular business reason to approach the CEO. And only an iffy personal reason (this sort of thing being delicate even among strangers).

        What the OP has, though, is concern for their employment situation. What I’d do is to ask for a sit-down meeting with my manager and HR, put the situation and the concern about repercussions (maybe avoid the word “retaliation” as there’s no action of the OP’s to retaliate *against*!) and the GINA regulation on the table. As for assurance that the company would not treat the OP differently because of some result from a private DNA test. Put on the record that the OP has taken no action whatsoever that is even in the slightest questionable, and make sure to keep a record of the conversation (ideally to be added to the OPs file).

    2. El l*

      Argue for sending the note – assuming it was as concise and clear as that – because the CEO just isn’t acting in a predictable manner here. He is making huge movements, huge assumptions, and leaning on the managers on the basis of zero input from OP. Even with nothing said, he could wake up one morning and decide to fire OP because he thought while brushing his teeth that the worst case scenario is the likely scenario.

      Because this is literally the only thing OP could do to influence the situation.

      (Mind you, the bigger point is that OP has to polish their resume and start interviewing pronto)

      1. High Score!*

        Never know. I’m hoping that CEO realizes that OP will keep quieter than he has, OP will find a better job, and then CEO Bro will take they’ve been a glass bowl and reach out to apologize. Or at the very least that OP is able to dodge any career limiting by CEO.

  24. Traveling Nerd*

    I’m confused as to the dad’s relationship to the company – and why the LW’s Dad gave DNA tests to the whole company — can anyone clarify this?

    1. clarification*

      LW’s dad doesn’t have any connection to the company. Dad gave DNA kits for Christmas to his family members — the adult children he already knew about — and the app connected to the DNA company would have informed their previously unknown half-sibling, the CEO.

    2. Isben Takes Tea*

      I read it as the Dad only gave the DNA test to his own family, but the CEO somehow was also connected to the app that the results were released to.

    3. Queer Earthling*

      He didn’t. The CEO did the DNA test separately (unrelated to OP’s dad, who gave DNA tests to OP and OP’s family, not to the company), but the connected/related app notified the CEO of the connection, as well as notifying OP and OP’s family.

    4. What??*


      The letter says: My dad gave the whole family DNA ancestry kits for the holidays

      There is absolutely nothing in the letter about their dad giving DNA ancestry kits to the whole company.

    5. I am Emily's failing memory*

      The dad just gave them to his own family. It was just a coincidence that the CEO had previously gotten his DNA tested with the same DNA testing company and (one assumes) subscribed to the feature that alerts you when new long-lost family members are found. Most people who sign up for tat expect to find out about distant cousins from their great-grandmother’s estranged brother’s side of the family, not half-siblings from their secret father.

    6. IT Squirrel*

      As I read it, Dad gave his kids DNA tests. The family did the tests and the results were one of those ‘We found a half-sibling!’ ones – which co-incidentally happens to be the CEO of the company where the LW works.

      We are assuming the CEO (as a half-sibling) was notified of the test results in some way and has now gone overboard with their reaction, but no-one else in the company knows.

      TL:DR: Dad did not give the whole company tests, just his own family.

  25. QuinleyThorne*

    WHOOOOO BOYYYYYY. Firstly, this is a lot to deal with, and I’m sorry you’re having to deal with this. I’m leaning toward Alison’s suggestion to putting out feelers for new positions, just because I don’t really think there’s any way of approaching the CEO and addressing this directly in a way that doesn’t make the situation worse somehow.

    While he is being ridiculous about this in many ways, to be honest, I also kinda get it. People take these DNA tests for a lot of different reasons, and you don’t know what his reasons are. Perhaps he was taking it just for curiosity’s sake and didn’t expect to make this discovery. Or, perhaps he was taking it for that reason, but didn’t expect the result would be as close and immediate as it is, and wasn’t prepared to deal with that (especially in a work setting). As mentioned above, I imagine your CEO is going through a lot emotionally, and probably having a lot of fraught conversations with other family members right now.

    I know your having to look for work elsewhere isn’t the fairest option–it’s not fair that you should have to begin the process of uprooting yourself because your CEO received and acted upon this news poorly–but given the fraught and complicated nature of the situation, it’s unfortunately probably the best option, at least in the short term. Ugh, this sucks, I’m sorry this is happening OP.

  26. This One Here*

    My late mother-in-law was one of the minds behind GINA.

    “ In 1996 and 1997, she was a congressional fellow in the Washington office of U.S. Sen. Pete Domenici, a New Mexico Republican who served from 1973 to 2009. She drafted and promoted legislation promoting the confidentiality of genetic information and opposing discrimination based on those data.”


      1. This One Here*

        She was a brilliant woman. Dementia took her from us, even while she was still alive. Still, her accomplishments live on.

  27. Addison DeWitt*

    The CEO’s already being a jerk; he’s only going to get crummier when he knows for sure that you know. I would look for new work with more haste than Allison suggests.

  28. snacattack*

    Just wanted to say–terrible situation, excellent advice, but any chance we can throw a “biological” qualifier in there when speaking of the biological parentage of the CEO? “share a biological father” rather than “share a father”

    Signed, snacattack, biological dad to 1 and adoptive dad to 1 more

    Thanks for considering!

  29. Abogado Avocado*

    I am sorry you’re going through this.

    My guess, based on the knee-jerk training response and the clumsy approach from the manager, is that this CEO went to his lawyers with the DNA test results and they filled his head with all sorts of doom and gloom about what could happen, but likely won’t. (For example, if other employees learned you were his half-brother they might accuse him of favorable treatment towards you or if he died without a will, in some states you could have a claim to inherit). Really, the guy would have been better off doing some hours in therapy before taking action. But that’s him. This is about you.

    Keep a file with everything related to this genetic testing, the sudden nepotism rule and training, and your notes about your conversations with management (in any form and including with HR) in a file away from work. Consider getting a referral from your local bar association’s referral service to an employment lawyer with whom you can have a consultation (usually at a reduced rate) about your employment rights in light of this genetic information. While, in the end, you may end up seeking another job, you likely don’t want to be on the lay off or firing list in the interim due to the DNA results and you likely do want to assure you’ll get a good reference. Additionally, if you do end up on the lay off or firing list as a result of these DNA results, having a lawyer you can call on can ensure you get the severance terms you deserve.

  30. Not Tom, Just Petty*

    Agree. Does HR understand that it was being used by the CEO to intimidate one person?
    OP, I would go to HR but not offer “I have no intention of…” Just say what happened, how you were the only one then stop talking. Let them tell you what they think is happening.

    1. MsSolo UK*

      Yes, this is something that stands out to me – as far as I can tell, only OP knows why their office was targeted with nepotism training. I have to assume there is some /wild/ speculation going on amongst middle management as to why. Whether HR know is a slightly different question (you have to assume they’d ask why just the one office), and a safer bet than going to OP going to their manager, but they have to be prepared for some backlash if the CEO thinks OP is spreading information he convinced himself he’s keeping a secret.

  31. Olive*

    Would it be reasonable for the LW to have a lawyer send a letter to the CEO with HR copied, mentioning GINA and also stating that they have no desire or intention to pursue a personal relationship in any way, including via increased work connections?

    1. Just Another Zebra*

      Part of me thinks this is a nuclear option, but the another part feels this might be necessary. I think I’d have a convo with HR independently first, and then consider this option if they respond poorly (which I suspect they will).

    2. NewJobNewGal*

      This was my first thought. An attorney can be the representative for the OP, then any other shenanigans can be directed through the attorney and the OP can do their job without the drama.

  32. Warrior Princess Xena*

    I’d be interested to know on a broader scale how GINA would intersect with existing professional or company standards designed to reduce conflicts of interest. At least in accounting there are a number of rules that limit CPAs from performing certain kinds of work when the client is a ‘related party’, which includes familial links, and I know there are a lot of workplaces where dating coworkers/hiring family members in the workplace (or at least the direct chain of command) is strictly against policy.

    1. Dr. Rebecca*

      Probably the CPA (or doctor/lawyer/whomever) would have an ethical/legal responsibility to transfer the client/offer recommendations to another reputable provider. That way the work gets done, but not by them.

    2. S*

      Federal law should trump company policies. If there’s no familial connection and the only indication of relationship is the result of OP’s genetic test, it doesn’t sound like the genetic test alone could be used as a reason to make adverse employment decisions about the OP.

      So if the CEO were smarter, he’d have invited the OP to Sunday dinner, given him a nice “welcome to the family” gift, and THEN sent out the nepotism memo. But as things stand, it’s easy for the OP to establish that their only link is the genetic test, and that seems like a position of legal vulnerability for the company if they act against OP.

      1. Warrior Princess Xena*

        Oh agreed 100% – given the facts in the letter, unless the CEO backs down then OP probably has a GINA claim.

  33. Michelle Smith*

    As someone with a half-brother out there that I’ve been too anxious to ask my family about, this whole situation makes me want to throw up. I hope that you’re doing okay OP and not yourself having any negative feelings about this guy’s response. I’m sorry you’re dealing with this situation and I wish you the best in navigating it. I hope you update us in the future about what you decided to do and how it worked out.

  34. Sparkles McFadden*

    This is a tough one. While I usually like addressing things head-on, someone having this much of a freak out is not going to react well to any type of contact. The CEO is the person who weaponized the resources of the company, not you, so you might want to get actual, legal advice from an attorney (in case of escalation). Then, do your best to ignore it. The exception to this is if you notice your manager treating you differently. You might need to have a discussion with her, depending on your relationship with her, but I am betting that everyone the CEO involved in this wants to pretend none of it ever happened. They know it’s over the top too!

    …and yeah…start looking around. I recommend looking around at the five-year mark anyway. You feel better about where you are when you know what else is out there, and sometimes, you find something great.

  35. ClydesdalesandCoconuts*

    I agree with option 3- he brought HR into it and you have the legal right to not be discriminated against. While he may be trying to cover his butt he is actually targeting you for something you have no control over. I would be worried that he will find a reason to get rid of you sooner than later and if I were you I would file a discrimination complaint with HR- and put in my notice of immediate resignation. His behavior while understandable from a shock and reaction standpoint is somewhat understandable- but the clearly targeted discrimination towards you is unacceptable in a professional workplace. The fact that he removed all professional connections to you is a strong statement, and you can respond equally as strong with a discrimination complaint and immediate resignation.

    1. gorb*

      I agree about a discrimination complaint, but not immediate resignation — though definitely look for another job, and potentially lawyer up to work on ensuring that you don’t get a negative reference from the company when you need it.

    2. M2*

      Anywhere I have worked you can’t have a family member in your direct line management (that includes grand-boss and even above) for nepotism purposes.

      This was clearly not handled correctly but the CEO might have spoken to a lawyer or something.

      I don’t think trying to put a fire out with more fire is the way to go at all. I mean if you threaten a lawsuit that isn’t a great first step in my opinion (and honestly couldn’t the CEO then try and sue your dad for back child support?).

      Talk to HR and read your company policies so you’re educated on it and if you want speak to a lawyer but I wouldn’t threaten a lawsuit just yet.

      1. allathian*

        I wonder if family member status actually would count for nepotism purposes here, given that neither the CEO nor the LW knew nothing about the familial relationship when the LW was hired.

        I’m not sure about the US, but in Finland at least you can’t be sued for failure to pay child support for a child you never knew existed. And if you learn that you have an adult child who’s clearly capable of supporting themself, there’s no liability whatever. Besides, the CEO does have a father who presumably supported him when he was a kid.

    3. Observer*

      I agree with option 3- he brought HR into it and you have the legal right to not be discriminated against.

      Actually not. In many companies, if the OP / CEO had known about the issue in advance, the OP would not have been hireable in that company. Nepotism policies are perfectly acceptable, even in many organizations even REQUIRED.

      That’s one of the things that makes this a bit more complicated. The CEO is acting like an idiot. But even if he comes to his senses, there is a real problem here. Pulling HR in is likely to make things worse.

      I honestly think that the best thing the OP could do is look for another job. It’s not fair, but that’s still their best course.

      1. tamarack etc.*

        That can’t be legal everywhere. From what I find online, at least some states have protections against discrimination on the grounds of family relationship – what nepotism protections forbid in such cases is for the CEO to *recommend* (or more, like favor, treat preferentially etc.) a relative for a job.

      2. allathian*

        Are you saying that in the US, nepotism legislations prevents a company from hiring any members of the CEO’s family? Really? What happens if the board appoints a new CEO, are all of their family members out of a job regardless of the size of the company or the job that the family member holds?

  36. Woodswoman*

    Echoing the comments that the CEO is absolutely mishandling the situation, no matter how jarring and upsetting for him it may be.

    Unfortunately, if it were me, the only course of action would be looking for another job. A CEO who created a new training just for your department and cryptically involved your manager is definitely terrified of you, and it is very likely that he will ultimately come to the conclusion that you not being part of the company is the only way to alleviate his discomfort.

    I’m petty, though. So I would find a new job, give my notice, and send the CEO an email on my last day letting them know that the new training was absurd, I had no intention of discussing the new information at work, and I was disappointed by how unprofessionally it was handled.

  37. The Skeleton in the Closet*

    I found out 5 years ago that my dad was not my biological father taking an Ancestry DNA test. I have empathy for the CEO—this info can rock your world and put you in a very dark place. With time I hope he comes out of this place. This does not excuse his behavior. He needs to find a support group (I’d recommend one but no way to get that to him without rocking the boat more) or get therapy.

    OP, I’d go to HR. Don’t get any others involved, but I would note that the fact you were clearly singled out makes you feel targeted and that your job is being threatened.

  38. Sunshine*

    I’m confused – presumably the CEO would need to have this app and have done a DNA test already in order to be notified of the results when OP did one, right? So he had to have already known his dad was not his real dad? I guess it’s still shocking to learn that you have half-siblings and that one of them works for you, but this seems way, way overblown.

    1. BobBo*

      I think the CEO isn’t handling this news well. But let’s consider he’s getting outside pressures to deal with this or is somehow shocked to find these things out and has acted out of panic. I’d do nothing and let things simmer down.

      1. This Old House*

        It depends, probably, on how much attention the CEO was paying to his results, whether he had other relatives testing who he expected to match and didn’t, how similar the genetic background of the known father vs the biological father were, etc. It’s possible he had gotten somewhat unexpected results initially and just went, “Oh look, we always thought we were Swiss but we’re actually German” – or it’s possible he had already interrogated why he wasn’t matching known cousins and knew that his biological relationships weren’t what he had expected. The amount of attention people pay to DNA test results varies WIDELY, based on both their interests and their knowledge of genetics.

    2. nnn*

      He wouldn’t know until the dad put his own DNA test in there. Once he did, relatives would get alerted to the connection.

      1. Sunshine*

        But wouldn’t it have still said that he shares 0% of DNA with the man he thought was his dad? I thought that was how these worked.

        1. Sunshine*

          Oh never mind, I see what you mean. If his original dad never did a DNA test, there would have been no DNA to compare CEO’s to, so it might not have told him anything about his parents.

        2. OldMtnLady*

          Another genealogist here. Even if CEO’s dad hadn’t tested, if CEO looked at his match list at all, it would quickly be pretty obvious that he had no matches at all on his dad’s side of the family – no aunts, uncles, or cousins. All of the matches he recognized would have been maternal ones. Lots of people test just for the ethnicity results (which make for interesting cocktail party conversation, but are unreliable below the continental level). I kind of suspect CEO never really looked at his matches until after OP and family tested and CEO got a message from the testing company about his “new close family matches.” He can’t have looked at them in any kind of serious way and already not known that the man who raised him wasn’t his biological father.

          1. Alex*

            For what it’s worth, I’ve done a DNA test and I don’t recognize anybody on either side of my matches.

            Like, we know I’m my mom’s kid, both because I literally came out of her but also because we look almost identical. But neither she nor any of our other close relatives have done a DNA test. I recognize a few family names (like, “oh yeah, my great grandmother’s maiden name was ‘Wilson,’ and look, I have some relatives with the last name Wilson”) but there aren’t any individuals anywhere on my genetic test results that I actually know, because my aunts, uncles and cousins haven’t done genetic testing.

      2. Oxford Comma*

        Not necessarily. The CEO would get a list of results of people he shares DNA with. Most closely related ones first. His biological parents would not need to be present in the system.

    3. straws*

      It’s also possible that he did know that his dad wasn’t his real dad or that he was raised by a single mom and never knew a dad, but the reality of finding out who his real dad is still had a major impact on him. And I’m certain that even if he signed up with the intention of finding out, he likely didn’t expect a sibling to pop up at his small business. I think there’s plenty of shock to go around even before we factor in the possibility that he grew up with someone he thought was his biodad.

    4. Looper*

      Learning that the person he grew up with as “dad” is not his biological father is one thing. Finding out the identity of said biological father AND learning you have half siblings AND learning one of those half siblings works for your company is a whole other kettle of fish. It makes an abstract issue very, very concrete.

    5. fhqwhgads*

      He’d only know about his dad if who he thought his dad was also took the test. If he took the test by himself and was on the app – and for some reason didn’t opt out of the “surprise relatives” notifications – then he very easily finds all this info after LW’s dad’s christmas present in which that family all took the tests.

    6. tamarack etc.*

      Maybe not. If the CEO took the DNA test but no other member of his own immediate family, or maybe just him and his spouse and maybe their relatives, he may not have had a point of comparison. Maybe he did it seriously, maybe he knew his father wasn’t his, but maybe he just did it on a lark. Now suddenly the app sends him a raft of notifications of multiple half-siblings and someone of the degree of father or full brother…

  39. M2*

    I understand people talking about GINA but using a lawyer and sending letters at this point to me is a bit extreme. Also saying “weaponizing” HR is also a bit much. The CEO just found out they have a different biological father and that bio dad according to LW hasn’t event reached out to his kid yet or give them medical information!

    Where I work you can’t have anyone in your family manage you or be in your direct line management. So even if LW were up for a promotion that might have CEO be your manager or grand-boss in the future now that it’s known you are related whether the CEO wanted to or not in my company HR wouldn’t allow it. You could threaten a lawsuit but a policy is a policy for a reason.

    I would give the CEO space and then send a message in a bit. They may have sent out that training because HR or a lawyer mentioned it was a good idea or maybe the CEO was worried. Heck maybe you were up for some promotion or are in the future and the CEO looked at your file and wanted it out there to cover you and them.

    I think you should put out feelers for a new role because in most workplaces a family member can’t be a manager and if you’re ever up for promotion if this is a policy they can fall back on it.

    Maybe it’s just me but I like to give people the benefit of the doubt in tough situations like this- people react in all different ways. I’m not saying it’s ok but I think reacting offensively from the get-go will only make it worse for everyone involved. Good luck.

    1. S*

      I don’t see why company policy should prevail over federal law. The info is the OP’s private genetic information; he shares no familial connection to the CEO otherwise. If federal law prohibits companies from using that information for purposes of discrimination, and there’s no legal familial relationship, it seems like the company would be on very shaky ground to make any employment decision based on this, whatever their business policies are.

      1. tamarack etc.*

        This is a really good point. The Ancestry DNA test isn’t even a formal paternity test, let alone something of the same weight as a birth certificate.

        And yes, the CEO used the power of his company position to intimidate a subordinate based on learning something of a completely private nature, something that the subordinate is protected against discrimination for. So yeah, that’s a pretty severe abuse of power in my book.

    2. Lizzo*

      Yes, policy is policy, but it’s clear that the training associated with the policy is targeting the LW specifically (e.g. only LW’s branch went through training). So yes, the CEO is using their power/influence to leverage the policy as a weapon against LW. Not cool.

  40. BobBob*

    Say nothing. Go about your job as if this never happened. He is CLEARLY not interested in knowing you. You may consider moving jobs if the awkwardness becomes too much but only to benefit your own comfort not for anyone else. You did nothing wrong. You don’t have to do anything. Say nothing. Go on with your life.

  41. gorb*

    No matter what happens, I don’t think I’d want to remain at a company with such an impulsive CEO much longer. I think I would go the route of having a lawyer send a letter to HR reminding them of GINA, talk to the lawyer about how, when ready, to negotiate a positive reference with the company, and start job-searching.

    1. gorb*

      …and in full disclosure, once I was safely at a new company, I’d probably use this as my go-to cocktail party story ;p

  42. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

    I think lawyers (or people wanting to be lawyers…) have initiated most of this, rather than the CEO himself. I think he must have received a notification, sought advice from HR/legal and they have gone nuclear with this. It also seems clear to me that OPs manager has been asked to have the conversation with them without any actual information, which I can understand but also puts the manager in a difficult position. The CEO has probably blocked all social media etc on the advice of someone else, too.

    I wonder if it’s a company where nepotism could become more like impropriety due to the nature of the company/organisation. Someone has realised the existing policy doesn’t cover this situation and gone into a panic. It really smells to me like a ‘legal’ type panic more than an emotional reaction of the CEO as some people seem to be assuming.

    I almost wonder if the CEO already knew but the company didn’t- until he realised that OP now knew because of the DNA test so thought it would come out.

  43. sometimeswhy*

    My thoughts are a mix of functional and petty.

    The CEO has told you a whole lot about himself, his beliefs, and his leadership through his actions. And even if it’s all fed fear and not bad faith, even if he really is a good guy, then you definitely have a ceiling on your possible progression for fear that it will LOOK like nepotism if you’re promoted further. I agree with everyone who’s said that looking for your next opportunity and quietly leaving is probably your best bet. Unless…

    Unless he makes the time between now and your departure progressively more uncomfortable. If that happens, look for your next opportunity, secure it, and sky write your reasons for departure on your way out, plus or minus the help of an employment lawyer.

  44. WhyAreThereSoManyBadManagers*

    Wow, this could be a storyline on Young & The Restless or General Hospital. Seriously, what are the odds that of the millions of people using those DNA kits, your new half sibling turns out to also be the big boss. Also, why are there so many undiscovered never before known about kids out there, it seems so 1940’s war-time but I guess it’s still happening. OP I hope you find some peace in this situation both personally & with your career outcome.

    1. Bb*

      Yup. Our good friends found out via one of these dna kits a few years ago that is dad is a fertility doc and he has like 17 half siblings. His mom knew of course and never told him. It’s not clear if his sibling is his full sibling but based on appearances I would say no. He confronted his mom who shut him down and won’t discuss it. Seems his dad may not know. This was all to help out his stepchild doing a school project.

      1. Observer*

        His mom knew of course and never told him.

        No “of course” about it. In at least one high profile case,

        In at least one high profile case I know of, the doctor absolutely lied about the situation and people had no idea that their doctor was substituting his sperm for that of the husband.

        There is a reason why the recommendation today is to work with a center rather than a single doctor practice, and any decent center has really tight protocols as to who can handle what pieces. But that’s a relatively new development. Largely in response to such stories.

      2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        There’s a documentary on Netflix about one of those situations, called Our Father.

    2. Solokid*

      “why are there so many undiscovered never before known about kids out there”

      Trendy/fun DNA testing only came around like 15 years ago.

      Before that, people had to go to doctors with real reasons beyond wanting to see what % neandertal they are, and certain mothers figured nobody would figure out whatever secret they were hiding.

  45. BBB*

    I would talk to HR immediately. while I can sympathize with all of you (ceo included) for the shock and personal turmoil the situation is causing and that can make people do some wild things, the ceo is clearly abusing his position of power. there is no way you will get fair dealing with promotions or high level projects after this and he’s likely to try to push you out entirely. you should protect yourself.
    go to HR but also be job hunting hard because your career at that company is toast.
    and that sucks and is completely unfair to you.

  46. irene adler*

    What no one is privy to, is what CEO’s parent told him about his dad.
    Maybe that colors his thinking a lot too much?

    1. Woodswoman*

      Oooh, this is an interesting take. It doesn’t change the fact that the CEO is mishandling things, but you’re right that it’s possible CEO has been given some really bad (and likely biased/untrue) information.

      1. irene adler*

        Exactly -this doesn’t vitiate a single thing the CEO said/did.
        It might explain why he did what he did.
        I’m just floored over this CEO thinking this was needed. Way to pass judgment over someone he doesn’t even know.

  47. animaniactoo*

    Honestly, I think the LW should work on getting the hell out of there. I have so many fantasy ideas of what the LW should do, but in reality, I would maybe go the GINA route with HR and note that I was not planning on doing anything with my newly discovered DNA information, but given the flurry of Nepotism retraining and specific instructions on making sure that I had taken the training I am feeling unnerved despite my excellent work and reputation within the company I feel it necessary to make sure that this information about GINA is known. And then sit back, keep my head down, keep busting ass at my job, and do not another single thing other than working on getting out of that company.

    Dude had a lot of options and he may be freaking out, but he brought it to work and went very pre-emptive strike about it, which concerns me for the LW’s employment, regardless of anything else. At the most, I think that all the GINA law would do if CEO is determined for the LW to be out is for CEO/HR to start working hard to justify terminating LW. In the absence of any more reasonable responses or adjustments or communication coming from CEO, I think the LW is better off protecting themselves and their career and leaving before that can happen or too much damage can be done to their work reputation.

  48. I'm fabulous!*

    Give him time, OP. He’s probably also dealing with the shock of the discovery. His whole world has been turned upside down. You don’t know what he was told about his parents and upbringing.

  49. IDIC believer*

    Wow fact is stranger than fiction. I would definitely communicate with HR about GINA. I would do this not because it would protect me – though it would serve as a warning I’m not going to quietly put up with more crap. But more I would do it because I know it would ripple up to the CEO. Petty? Sure. But any sympathy I had for him evaporated the moment he went nuclear. I would never trust him, HR or my boss again – I would see everything through the lens of this.

    BTW the CEO is an idiot, as is anyone involved, because the way this was handled (targeted training, conversation with boss) “guarantees” there will be gossip and talk. It would foolish to think other coworkers didn’t notice something. As executive assistant to different top executives over the years, this would not have been a secret for more than a day. Most EAs can keep their mouth shut, but ALOT of executives can’t – especially with stuff like this combined with CEO’s over the top actions.

    I would ramp up a job search super fast because between the CEO, HR, and boss, I could never trust my future at this company wouldn’t be tampered with.

  50. Grey Panther*

    So if I’m reading this correctly:
    – CEO actively opted in to receive results from DNA matches of other people in general.
    – In this way, CEO finds out he’s related to one employee, LW.
    – CEO (once he’s coaxed down from climbing the walls), desperately wants to protect himself from *totally imaginary* demands from LW and, apparently, to keep the whole matter quiet, so …
    – CEO orders a nepotism training *for LW’s department only* and tells HR to “counsel” LW individually (all of which means he must have explained the whole situation to a whole bunch of other people), and as a result …
    – LW, who’s taken absolutely no action and done absolutely nothing wrong here, is concerned for her current job, any future references, and her professional reputation? What?

    This is completely bananacrackers. No, let me edit that: *CEO* is completely bananacrackers.

    I’m so sorry this has landed on you, LW. You have complete support and (if it’s okay) sympathy from this internet stranger.

    1. Sunshine*

      Me too. It honestly smacks of selfishness to me. It might be coming from a place of shock, but it sure does seem like “I need to protect my assets and wealth from this unworthy underling!”

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        I’d give him a tiny break because of what he may have been hearing about his father growing up – there’s a similar story in my family – three of my four grandparents are all of the same ethnic group, and then my grandma married a man of another group that was known for not having a lot of love for grandma’s. Grandpa died in a military hospital, close to where his family lived, shortly after WW2 and never made it home from the war. His family, according to what I heard growing up, helped themselves to almost all of his belongings, including his military awards, and cut contact. When I took my DNA test, I didn’t want to post the results on the sites where you look for relatives, specifically because I didn’t want to run into that family. Finally did it last year after concluding that there may have been a decades-long telephone game in play and grandpa’s relatives might not be the evil family from heck I’d grown up believing that they were.

        But regardless. The man is a CEO of a large company. He should know better. His judgment should be better than this, even if he did in fact grow up thinking the worst of OP’s dad.

    2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      Right, I cannot wrap my brain around this either. Anytime I try, poor brain explodes when I get to how many people he must’ve told. WHILE LW TOLD NO ONE. Then blocked LW on everything even though he’s been the one going around telling people, and LW told no one! Make it make sense.

      Question to all: at this point, it’s pretty clear that LW needs to start looking – are there any precautions they should be taking? E.g., everyone asks why you’re looking, and even at LW’s next job search, employers will ask for “reasons for leaving” this one. I keep hearing of companies contacting a candidate’s current job to get information. With the CEO behaving erratically and apparently looping the management and HR in, how can LW protect themselves for the job search in case current company is in fact contacted?

      Wow, Bollywood movies are not fun at all in real life! Sorry, LW. This truly sucks and through no fault at all of your own! What a holiday gift that DNA kit turned out to be, wow.

      1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

        > With the CEO behaving erratically and apparently looping the management and HR in, how can LW protect themselves for the job search in case current company is in fact contacted?

        I’d be inclined to tell (some version of) the truth as a reason for leaving, in this case.

        1. Ellie*

          I would tell the truth – ‘After doing one of those DNA tests, it turned out I was related to the CEO. I thought it best to get a bit of distance.’ I’d leave the CEO’s response out of the initial version but if asked for details, I’d give them.

          1. tamarack etc.*

            What good does this do? “After doing one of those DNA tests, it turned there was a family surprise that linked me with the CEO unexpectedly. Subsequently, with no action on my part, I was singled out and treated with unfounded suspicion that was initiated from the CEO down the management ladder. I thought it better to seek employment elsewhere.”

    3. Nomic*

      As I posed below, if he was signed up for a notification, doesn’t that mean he has likely also taken a DNA test — so this probably isn’t a bombshell that we are treating it has. He probably already knew. And he’s STILL doing this! I really don’t get it.

      1. Woodswoman*

        My thought is that CEO probably took a DNA test in an effort to learn more about where he comes from, not necessarily because he thinks there’s a family secret.

        I am excited to take an ancestry DNA test, and will be open to matches- not because I think there’s something I don’t know about my parents, but because I’m open to meeting other (much less closely related) people who have links to me.

      2. Kyrielle*

        People also take those tests who only want to connect to distant cousins and fill out their family tree more. Anecdata: me. I’d be stunned to learn my father wasn’t actually my biological father, but I would be pleased to turn up more information on distant cousins, which is more what I was hoping for when I did the test.

    4. nom de plume*

      But we don’t even know for sure that the CEO has discovered anything at all! On that basis alone, I would let this lie. It just seems a leap to assume that the CEO has the DNA app on his phone at all, so to build an action plan on that basis does not seem at all solid.

      1. Green Tea*

        How on earth would you explain the CEO’s actions deliberately targeting OP if he doesn’t know OP is related to him?

        You think he woke up one day and said “I want to give nepotism training, including updated language, to one random department only, and then select one random person to do a one-on-one and make sure they really understand the nepotism policy?” without having any idea that this random person is related to him?

  51. Joie De Vivre*

    I can’t imagine- what are the odds. If he hadn’t freaked out, I would suggest letting him know what health conditions (if any) run in the family. I’ve done that for my unexpected DNA matches, but none of mine were half-siblings.

    1. tamarack etc.*

      Huh. How would anyone know what health conditions run in one’s family. Sure, if you know a member has a genetic disorder, but that’s bound to be rare.

      1. SAS*

        Many people have a general idea of at least the last two generations of family health issues. My father, two of his brothers, his first cousin, and my grandfather have had heart attacks. If my dad had a surprise son that reached out, I would 100% share that heart conditions run on that side of the family.

        On my mothers side, both her mother and maternal uncle had Alzheimers, she, her father and her sister all have lung issues, so she would probably share that with any surprise cousin that emerged from either side. Plenty of families have specific cancer histories etc that are very well known and monitored for.

  52. M2*

    This is why I have never done a DNA style test in a system! My dad died when I was very young was a notorious playboy before he married my mom. I also don’t really know much of his family medical history (I asked and his parents refused to tell me anything other than them being alcoholics). At this point in my life I don’t want or need another sibling. I wouldn’t want to hurt anyone, but I don’t have any interest. I have a sibling and huge family I am close with on my mom’s side, my dad’s side only caused drama and misery.

    My sibling and I both agreed never do a DNA test service and if we did we would tell the other first. We both know that something will come if it and don’t have the mental bandwidth to deal with more of my dad’s family drama. Also, if he had cheated on my mom during their marriage (and her cancer) it would be heartbreaking for me.

    Although I would handle it better than the CEO.

    1. TiffAch*

      My dad is an identical twin, and I would not be surprised if he and/or his twin got around a bunch in their young adulthood. So while it could be cool to find more genetic relatives if both sides are excited about it, it could obviously go poorly. And then there is the added confusion of having no way to know whether it was my dad or my uncle who contributed genetic material to those half siblings. And then the philosophical question of whether it matters, and what is identity anyway?

      I’m also scared to see all the genetic predispositions for disease. It will be a race between heart disease and cancer, and do I really need to know more than that?

  53. GreenShoes*

    I guess, I don’t understand what the CEO is doing that is so wrong here.

    Presumably the company already had a policy around nepotism and family members reporting to each other. It would seem that this is was a CYA thing on his part since the OP does report up through him. It would also make sense that the CEO did targeted training for the OPs location because of the newly discovered relationship. As far as distancing on SM from the LW… umm yeah, not going to fault the guy for doing this because he presumably doesn’t want new family members crawling out of the woodwork. That would be a prudent move if he wasn’t the LW’s CEO.

    I feel like everyone wants to paint the CEO as the bad guy in this situation. But I don’t think that is fair. Through no action of his own he’s found out that his family isn’t his family and his employee is genetically related. Jeez… cut the guy some slack. It’s not exactly like there is a lot of precedence and or a rule book when it comes to something like this. And I truly don’t think the LW has done anything wrong either.

    I sometimes feel like people think that empathy can only go in one direction or another. That’s actually pretty sad that some can’t see a bad situation for everyone involved.

    1. Sunshine*

      He’s entitled to his feelings, whatever they are, but his obligation as a leader is to remain professional. Blocking LW on LinkedIn is unfair treatment and the way he’s handling this training is not great.

      1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

        Surely he’s as much subject to the nepotism policy as OP, though. I wonder if he’s hurried to block OP so that there’s no appearance of inappropriate connections on his part.

        1. Totally Minnie*

          Does it count as nepotism if they’ve gone their whole entire lives without knowing they were related and neither of them has ever asked for or offered the other undue advantage? This feels like a nepotism policy gray area.

          1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

            No, but now they know it comes under the policy (certainly the new, “clunky” worded version) so now he’s acted. It won’t be a popular opinion, but imo the CEO has a lot more to lose than OP.

    2. learnedthehardway*

      He’s in the wrong because he pre-emptively targeted the OP, and has either put her job at risk or at the very least given her a very legitimate fear that her job IS at risk. The CEO ignored her reputation for good work, informed HR / her manager of the situation, and insisted on training being delivered to her for an issue that she hasn’t even raised.

      We all get that the CEO is dealing with a bombshell right now, but his paranoia and over-reaction is unfair, self-centred, and just plain mean.

      1. GreenShoes*

        Targeted training is just what would be expected at a well run company. If one location has employees that routinely use ladders and another location doesn’t, would it make sense to train everyone in ladder safety?

        In this case there is a known family relationship. Of course it’s not the LW’s fault and there doesn’t seem to be any indication that she’s done anything wrong or is planning to. But as most companies have policies on nepotism (especially with regards to direct line reporting) both the CEO and the LW have found themselves in violation of the policy. It would be more weird if HR made just the LW undergo training.

        So far the LW has mentioned the training and the LinkedIn there is nothing else that says she’s being targeted. I think no matter how the training was handled it was going to be awkward. And as far as the LinkedIn, unless he’s handing out secret codes to use in the staff convenience store it doesn’t sound like that is a big loss. The LW said that he follows a lot of people not everyone.

        Now, because I’m a realist, I’m sure the CEO would be very happy if the LW tendered their resignation. But there’s nothing to indicate they are actively being pushed out.

        At a certain point the LW needs to realize that their long term prospects at the company are not great and they should start actively looking for something else. Does that suck… of course it does. I’m sure it’s going to suck for the company to lose a presumably talented employee.

        I’m clearly in the minority with my opinion, and that’s ok if others don’t agree with me.

        1. tamarack etc.*

          As someone else said, there is *no* known family relationship. There’s an outcome of a recreational DNA kit. It has no factual or legal value whatsoever.

    3. Sparkles McFadden*

      The issue isn’t the nepotism training. The issue is the power imbalance and the actions taken to single out the LW.

      If the CEO had all employees go through the nepotism training that included the very pointed additional clause, that would be a little jarring for the LW but not as unnerving as this. Only the LW’s office had to get the training and only the LW was singled out for a 1:1 meeting with the local manager to make sure the LW understood the training. Plus, we don’t know what the manager has been told, so this potentially affects the LW’s relationship with the local manager.

      Alison does say to cut the CEO some slack…but it is a worrisome situation for the LW.

    4. Not your typical admin*

      I agree with this. So many commenters are painting him as a selfish jerk. Did he handle it perfectly? No, but how many of us would have? He also doesn’t know how the lw feels about the situation, or what her reaction to the news was. I feel empathy for everyone involved in the situation.

      My dad gave dna tests to a lot of family members for Christmas a few years back. He loves genealogy, has worked in our family tree for decades, and thought it would be neat to see if there were any distant relatives he could fined. In the process he found out his sister was really his half sister. She never actually looked at the results, just let him set up an account for her. After a lot of thinking, he decided to not tell her. All the parents involved at this point have passed away, and he didn’t want to tarnish her view of her mom; or make her question her relationship with her dad, who she was very close to.

    5. AnotherLibrarian*

      Yeah, I tend to agree. I can’t imagine the trauma of suddenly discovering that your father is not your father. That would shake me to the core. And then to discover that you have a half sibling who works for your company…Wowzer. I suspect the training is being recommended by legal counsel and targeted trainings for one office aren’t that uncommon. Is it weird? Yeah. Awkward? 100%, but I don’t think anyone in this situation would know perfectly how to handle it. Personally, I would be inclined to send a note and then job hunt, but that’s just me. What a difficult situation for everyone involved.

      1. Curmudgeon in California (they/them)*

        I can’t imagine the trauma of suddenly discovering that your father is not your father.

        LOL! I was informed in my 30s by my mother sitting around yakking with me and a friend. She didn’t tell me who my bio father was, only that my Dad probably wasn’t. She also told me at the time that bio-father had died.

        It explained a ton of stuff about my childhood. I had been presumed to be a product of the wedding night, not the weekend before. It wasn’t traumatic, just… weird. She waited until I was in my 30s to tell me?

    6. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      I get that he had a lot of emotions, but he should’ve processed them in therapy, not taken them out on one of his employees who’s done nothing wrong. Throw the power imbalance in and yeah what he’s doing is pretty darn wrong. He’s terrorizing one of his staff for no reason. Meanwhile, he’s literally getting paid to run a company and to treat everyone in it with the utmost professionalism. He had one job, as they say. No slack cut.

    7. SofiaDeo*

      All CEO needed to do, was note that there wasn’t a nepotism plan in place, develop one, and see to it that it got implemented. No need to *call attention* to the specific relationship by blocking the employee everywhere, developing a plan that was given only to 1 specific department, and further targeting a lone person within that department. If anything, a rational person would leave the lines of communication open, so there would indeed be a clear record of any potential transgressions. And if it turned out that, regrettably, there was indeed a close enough employer-employee relationship to the LW that LW could not be employed there, a generous severance package/laid off could be done. There is clear documentation that no one knew of the relationship ahead of time, the timeline is very distinct. Instead LW is getting the nuclear “I have a secret I am trying to hide” actions of the CEO. I hope LW does speak with an employment lawyer, if for no other reason to make sure LW gets severance/good reference if it turns out the new policy does mean they can’t get promoted/shouldn’t be where they are. Instead of hazing them out or getting LW to leave on their own. I wonder if CEO was told to lay LW off/give a severance, and instead has decided to drive them out. If I hadn’t seen other management discuss and devise ways to get rid of people they didn’t want to fire/be eligible for unemployment or severance benefits, I wouldn’t say this.

  54. HugeTractsofLand*

    If OP does end up leaving the company, I think that would be a good time to send the CEO a note. Time will have passed and his most pressing (irrational) concern of her getting work perks will be a non-issue. Maybe something along the lines of “Based on the targeted nepotism training, I guess you found out about the DNA results. I never planned to discuss it with you and don’t plan to now, but I do plan to act professionally if we ever have to work together in the future. I hope you can lay your worries to rest and do the same. Best wishes, X”

    Good luck, and I hope you send an update!

    1. Lizzo*

      Super great wording, though I might add something that clarifies that the results was a surprise to OP.
      And yes, the time to send that note is after you’ve secured yourself professionally so that the CEO can’t do any sort of damage without being perceived as bananacrackers.

    2. tamarack etc.*

      I must say, I’m confused why the OP should be sending a graceful note to someone who reacted by making him the victim of targeted suspicion.

  55. Baron*

    I personally would leave in this situation. The CEO is clearly losing his shit over this, and I wouldn’t feel secure in my employment in a place where the CEO (for whatever reason) were this perturbed by my presence.

  56. Midwest Manager*

    LW you have my sympathy. Yes, your CEO is wildly overreacting, but, like some others have said, being on the receiving end of this kind of bombshell really can be overwhelming. I spent 55 yrs blithely secure in the knowledge I was an only child, only to find out…I wasn’t. I have an older half-sister, conceived over Christmas break my father’s senior year of college. He had NO idea, her mom’s name rings no bells, and he doesn’t recognize photos of her. When we found out (and same set up, Dad had bought the family DNA kits to look at our ethnic makeup, and then 2 yrs later I was messaged by this other woman) Dad was *adamant* she could not be his child and he flipped the F out, ordered me to have no contact with her, insisted she was scamming us nad would try to sue us for 70 yrs of back child support (he refused to believe me when I, a lawyer, told him that wasn’t how child support worked), etc. I re ran the DNA test through a private lab (and swabbed Dad myself, because I absolutely knew if I sent him his part of the kit, he would have a friend do the swab just to be sure it came out negative) and confirmed that she is in fact my sister. My father refuses to acknowledge her, which is his right I suppose.
    Anyway, that’s a long way of saying—-when the story of your own existence (who your parents are) gets upended, especially if the CEO had no reason to doubt his parentage, I can’t overstate how unmooring that is. Not to excuse his behavior—he’s a CEO, he should know how to separate personal/professional, and/or know when he needs to steps back and let someone else analyze something. He’s overreacting for sure, but hopefully in time, he’ll calm down (but it may take….a lot of time. You don’t know how much this news may have blown up his family of origin). Alison is spot on—-keep your head down, be your best professional self, start looking around in case you do decide to switch companies. I wouldn’t send a note at this point just because he’s clearly still in the freaked zone, but I might in a couple of months. Best of luck.

    1. Meow*

      I’m confused why you’re acting like OP isn’t in the exact same situation you’re describing? She also just found out she has another sibling. Everyone seems to have more sympathy for the CEO than OP here. Yes, his situation may be more upsetting (not knowing his bio dad vs new sibling) but to some degree this is also probably shifting OPs world view also, and now on top of OP has to worry about their job.

      1. Looper*

        OP didn’t learn that the man they’ve called “dad” their entire life is not, in fact, their father. It is a very different situation. I disagree that people have more sympathy for the CEO having read the previous comments, but also I think that one could feel bad for the CEO and also feel that their actions are way off base and unfairly targeting OP, which seems to be a shared thought among the comments I’m seeing.

        1. Meow*

          That’s not what I said though – this commenter shared their own story of finding out they had a sibling they didn’t know about and how it upended their life. I was responding to that, as that’s the exact situation OP is in.

      2. tamarack etc.*

        I have a lot more sympathy for the OP (who’s being professional) than the CEO (who’s not, and utterly failing at his duties). Still, the OP only found out something about his father from the time before he even met the OP’s mother. The CEO may have found out that his assumptions and what he believed to be true about his family are likely wrong. There may be many painful feelings on the CEO’s side, and none on the OP’s.

        1. Meow*

          That’s not what I said though – this commenter shared their own story of finding out they had a sibling they didn’t know about and how it upended their life. I was responding to that, as that’s the exact situation OP is in.

  57. Nomic*

    I’m a bit confused by one thing. The CEO was notified by the DNA company. Presumably because he had that notification turned on. Which means he probably would have already knows his paternal DNA didn’t belong to the father who raised him.

    So…why is he worried now?

    1. Just Another Zebra*

      Not quite.

      CEO would only know that if his dad also did a DNA test, or any siblings he has with his bio parents did a test and had a mismatch in genetics. If the man he thought was his father didn’t take a test, the app would have no way of knowing about his genetics.

    2. Qwerty*

      CEO was probably expecting to be alerted about cousins or distant relations. Or get an updated breakdown that says he’s now 15% Irish instead of the 30% in his original readout because the good companies keep recalculating those as they get more data.

    3. Sharp-dressed Boston Terrier*

      I admit this is nothing but speculation, but it may be a case of a one-two punch where the CEO may still be coming to terms with the revelation that the man who raised him is not his biological father. Or he’d made his peace with it, and this just tore the subject wide open again.

      It does make sense on the face of it; for some amount of time he was aware of the first fact, and then suddenly not only do you know who your biodad is (and I’m guessing he really wasn’t looking to know) but you have a whole clutch of half-siblings. And the icing on the cake is that one of them works for you.

      Even under the best of circumstances – wanting to know who your biodad is, and willingly learning about your half-siblings – that last plot twist would have me reeling back in my chair, jaw in my lap, saying “what the actual ever-lovin’ quack…”

      I certainly agree that the CEO is overreacting, and badly, but I cannot blame him for the feelings he’s having now that a by-all-appearances unpleasant situation for him has just become far too complex.

      1. Curmudgeon in California (they/them)*

        I am not my rearing father’s child. I found this out in my 30s, from my mom who ‘fessed up. I wasn’t really surprised, though. If I took one of those tests and found other half-siblings I would be sorta thrilled. My rearing father is dead. He may never have known for sure whether or not I was actually his child or not, but I’m pretty sure he suspected.

        I guess I don’t understand the freak out.

        1. Sharp-dressed Boston Terrier*

          Mostly because he’s probably feeling really blindsided by three things:

          1. His biological father is not the man who brought him up to adulthood.
          2. He has a whole other family he never knew about.
          3. One of those family members works for the company he runs.

          It’s not clear if he knew 1 before he knew 2 and 3 or if he discovered all three facts at once, but either way it’s a hell of a thing to be slapped upside the head with.

    4. Sharp-dressed Boston Terrier*

      AndJust Another Zebra makes a very good point. Without the CEO’s side of the story, we don’t know what he did or did not know. If there were no other indications of a mismatch, this whole thing would have been a tremendous bolt from the blue for him.

  58. Qwerty*

    Don’t send the note! That could make any future claims using GINA harder to pursue.

    The CEO already made it weird. Document the stuff you told us about how you were targeted for your DNA results and take it to HR. You need this on file for if/when you get pushed out.

    I get that the CEO is freaking out, but he could have taken his freak out to an employment lawyer and gotten advice on the legal way to handle this.

    I feel like a pre-emptive chat from HR could have allowed these actions to all take place without it being weird for OP. “OP, it has come to our attention that you and CEO recently discovered a possible family connection. To safeguard *both* of your reputations, our company counsel advised we do X, Y, and Z. Here is the number for the EAP if you need it” It’s monday so my phrasing isn’t the best, but company lawyer could help with that. Basically, bring OP into the process rather than set them up to feel like a target.

  59. A. Tiskit & A. Taskit LLC*

    Given how freaked out the CEO is about this, I’d bet my next paycheck that he:

    1. Has spent his life thinking that his mother’s husband/partner is his biological father.

    2. Realizes that his mother and her husband/partner have been lying to him all his life about his biological father.

    3. Also realizes that there’s a reason why he’s never heard about his biological father before – and such reasons are seldom good. He may have been the product of an adulterous affair, for example. Even if the truth is simply that his mother was unmarried when she had him, this is still unacceptable among very conservative people who regard “illegitimacy” as evidence of the mother’s sinful behavior. If the latter is the case, the CEO was likely raised to believe this as well.

    4. This revelation has just blown up the CEO’s lifelong view of his mother and her husband/partner. OF COURSE he’s freaking out! It’s just very unfortunate that he’s taking it out on the LW.

    And yes, the best solution would probably be to find another position. A possible silver lining in this is that the CEO must surely be aware that he can’t move openly against the LW without risking the LW “blowing his cover”, revealing their true relationship and making the CEO look absolutely awful for both rejecting his own (innocent) half-brother and taking out his own consternation on that (innocent) half-brother. That would REALLY make the CEO look heartless – and would reveal the very relationship he’s trying so desperately to conceal now.

  60. Tech writer by day*

    Gotta wonder how many of OP’s coworkers read AAM, or mentioned the odd nepotism training to a friend or spouse who reads it. This could easy be the talk of the office already. OP should be prepared.

    1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      Oh shoot, you’re right. Nepotism training isn’t something that’s commonly offered at work.

  61. Nook Nook*

    Please don’t go the note route, OP. As others mentioned, a call to HR about GINA and confirming your agreement to the no nepotism rule should suffice.

    Trying to put myself in CEO’s shoes and whew. Can only imagine if I just found out about my new father/stepfather status. I feel like I’d be curious of “my other family” but more than likely would freak the F out first. Sounds like he’s definitely freaking out. With all of the blocking, he very well may want to hide this info from his family, and prevent any contact. Holy moly, if/when there’s an update, I’ll be running to read it!

  62. Sara without an H*

    Hi, OP — I’m coming late to this, but here goes. I think you should do nothing at this time. Be flawlessly professional and wait for things to settle. As upstream commenters have said, your CEO has been hit hard by this information and is trying to process a lot of complicated emotions right now. Keep your head down, do your job flawlessly, and see what happens. You should document any further exchanges with your manager and HR or anything else that seems to be unusual and aimed specifically at you.

    But I also agree with Alison that it wouldn’t hurt to update your resume and LinkedIn entry and start discreetly looking around. It’s possible that your CEO may recover his perspective once he’s had a chance to process all this. But this is knowledge that he (and you) can’t unknow at this point. I don’t think you need to head for the hills, but looking for other opportunities is probably best for your long-term career.

  63. Jodi*

    If the CEO was alerted by the dna company it was because he had already registered and taken his own test at some point. There would be no way for the company to contact him otherwise. So this ” my father is not my father” was no surprise. I’m guessing he’d already researched OP’s family when he got his results and was just laying low hoping nothing further would come of it. Once he found out that OP learned of the connection, he chose to preemp any contact albeit in a clumsy, overboard manner. Perhaps sending a note aknowledging the elephant in the room and assuring the CEO that it’s just business as usual as far as you’re concerned.

    1. Ferret*

      People keep making this comment and I don’t understand why because it only applies if the CEO’s presumed parent also took a test and is on the service. I could take a test for genetic ancestry and unless my parents also did I wouldn’t have any way of knowing about something like this until the surprise bonus siblings popped up

      And actually we have no idea if CEO was lied to about his parentage – he may have had no idea who his supposed father was but still have been completely shock to find such a close relative working at his company

  64. PhilG*

    One question I haven’t seen posed is whether some nepotism event happened involving a previous CEO or other c-suite member? If so the board, when hiring the new CEO might have made it clear that it would not be tolerated again. My employer makes everyone from janitor up disclose any family members in it’s 60000 US & 4000 international employees. I could imagine some of his fears stemming from having given a firm assurance that he had no such concerns and now finds out that he has.

  65. Aspiring Great Manager*

    This whole thing sucks.

    But, mostly if I was OP, I would be worried about my job. So I would reluctantly start looking for work while also emailing HR in a very factual manner to have a paper trail in case there attempt to fire me in some weird way. Might still get fired but I’d feel better knowing that there was some documentation that might help me negotiate an exit or maybe protect me.

    I feel for you OP

  66. Recovering Chef*

    I actually wonder if it’s actually the CEO who’s freaking out. Could be he got the alert and went to HR to see if anything needed to be done, and it’s HR that’s freaking out. In that case, talking to them, and specifically reminding them about GINA, might be the most effective thing to do.

      1. Nina*

        It just might be some help against whatever this shitshow is, which has nothing to do with family or even friend relationships, because LW and CEO have apparently met briefly in work situations and haven’t interacted at all since discovering the genetic relationship, and absolutely everything to do with genetic information.

  67. Observer*

    OP, I think you need to start looking for a new job, regardless of whether the CEO gets his act together.

    The issue of nepotism is real. Your company has nepostism policies. In many companies, if this relationship was known about at the time you applied, you could not have been hired, due to these policies.

    It’s quite possible that this is a large part of what is behind the CEO’s response. He’s not handling it well, but there is a genuine problem here. And if you DO go to HR and say “Hey the CEO is my half brother” they are going to have to start looking at your eligibility for employment. I don’t think that GINA will help you here at all – nepotism policies are so standard that you won’t be able to make a case that this is unreasonable.

    So, keep your head down and start job searching. It’s not your fault, but it’s what you are stuck with I’m afraid.

  68. Not a nepotism baby I think*

    I’d have a conversation with HR, “I just found out through genetic testing that I may be related to a higher up at the company. I have no interest in any kind of familial relationship with them. Just wanted to run this by HR given the recent training and this federal law.”. And hunt for a new job. I always feel if you say too much you might tip your hand…If the CEO didn’t give specifics you might not want to right now either.

  69. Ferret*

    I’m not a lawyer and not even in the US so my comment may be totally useless – but from my knowledge about GINA and the summary Alison links I’m no so sure it applies to LW? Companies are allowed to discriminate on the basis that you are related to someone, which is really what is happening here, the fact that his happened because of a DNA test rather than someone finding a secret stash of love letters doesn’t really impact things.

    My understanding is that GINA is meant to protect against things like refusing to hire because a test shows someone as being at a higher risk of cancer or some nonsense around genetic “intelligence” tests

    None of this changes the morality of the question but I’d want some further confirmation from a lawyer or someone with a better understanding before being fully confident that LW is protected here

    1. SnowyRose*

      Not a lawyer either but I agree. From the what I read in the final rule itself, GINA “…is intended to prevent discrimination based on concerns that genetic information about an individual suggests an increased risk of, or predisposition to, acquiring a condition in the future.” All references and examples were medical.

      If OP were to run to HR and start waving the GINA flag without actually confirming that this applies, I think they’re going to run the risk of escalating it more than they intend.

      To be clear, I think both the OP and the CEO are in pretty difficult positions.

  70. wrljoswo*

    One problem with the note route is, his Inbox may be handled by an executive assistant. OP may have no way of knowing if this is the case. But if so, this could make the CEO even more uncomfortable either because his EA knows something deeply personal or because now that it’s been written down, it could get around.

    This sucks since it’s no fault on the OPs. If it were me, I’d go the “remain scrupulously professional & pretend it never happened” but would also update the old resume & keep a careful eye out for any hints that your future there is in jeopardy.

  71. Mrs. Hawiggins*

    I agree with others in here. Say nothing. It’s unfortunate for both OP and the CEO, neither one of their faults in this situation, but one has a position of power over the other, and as I’ve seen happen in non-business related surprise relative situations, some people will make the discovery a miserable experience for the other person, coming from a place of pain and shock. I’d keep the resume ready, but, let’s hope the CEO calms down and it doesn’t come to it.

  72. Indisch blau*

    What I think is strange is that the CEO has blocked the OP and their siblings on social media. How does OP know that – other than being blocked on Linked-In, of course?
    It was my understanding that no one knows I’ve blocked them and I don’t know who’s blocked me, unless I do some complicated analysis. (I.e. there are 5 likes on this post. Yesterday I saw 5 names, today I only see 4.) Did the OP’s siblings reach out via social media to the CEO? In that case I could understand that he’s feeling even more overwhelmed than might already be expected.

    1. Not your typical admin*

      I was wondering this as well. I can understand the lw knowing they were blocked, but not the other family members.

      1. HB*

        You can see that you’re blocked on Twitter pretty easily by searching for the account while logged in. If you can’t find it, you’re blocked. My guess is that there is a similar thing for Facebook and that the LW started checking (and asking siblings to check) once they noticed they were blocked on LinkedIn.

    2. msjwhittz*

      Someone who has blocked you will not show up in a search for their name while you are logged in. If you log out and their account now shows up in a search, congrats, they have blocked you. It’s really easy to find that out, sorry if you expected otherwise.

  73. Luna*

    “Yeah, my question about this policy is why the heck this whole roundabout thing is being done, when you could have just asked me into a one-on-one to begin with and told me this? You think I expect some kinda special treatment? No, I don’t. And since you’re obviously the messenger, you can tell the CEO that, as far as I’m concerned, he’s my father’s brother’s sister’s cousin’s former roommate.”

  74. Not That Kind of Lawyer*

    OP please speak with HR and mention your concern for retaliation. Depending on your jurisdiction, nepotism in reverse (penalizing you for your relationship) can also be actionable. Unfortunately, the CEO has already shown he is willing to single you out, and he can act on impulse.
    Allyson is right that it may be time to consider options away from this company.
    Good luck, and I’m sorry you are experience this.

    1. Observer*

      Depending on your jurisdiction, nepotism in reverse (penalizing you for your relationship) can also be actionable.

      That really surprises me. Which jurisdictions have such rules?

      1. Not That Kind of Lawyer*

        I don’t know of jurisdictions that specifically say “reverse nepotism,” but Louisiana for instance has laws (ethics guidelines) stating that you cannot make it harder to achieve because of race, religion, or family status. Of course, a company or gov. entity can make a sweeping “no family subordinates” rule, but if you are allowed to have family members work beneath you, then you cannot make the hiring/promotion process harder for them than anyone else applying for the same position. Louisiana has some strong right-to-work policies. Almost as strong as the at-will policies.
        Canada is another jurisdiction where there is caselaw stating overly broad nepotism statutes are illegal. What is considered overly-broad depends on the case.
        Ultimately, family situation is protected and some jurisdictions are more broad than others in defining family. There are some states that will say, “If you don’t like it, leave.” Other jurisdictions will say the same thing, but add that the company cannot place an extra burden because they are family.

  75. middlemgmt*

    OP, also, if you have a whistleblower tip line that is handled by an outside party (my own office does, and we aren’t even remotely in a field where there are ethical or regulatory rules.) then THIS is the time to use it, when you can’t trust HR or the CEO.

  76. middlemgmt*

    and honestly the more i think about this the more i say – from a legal standpoint – DO NOT send any note. you want a lawyer to be able to be able to say “look, my client has never, *not even once*, contacted the CEO; therefore all the CEO’s actions are without any basis”

  77. Kindred Spirit*

    Wow. What a story. If there were a way to ensure that communication with the CEO would only be read by him, I would send him a note to assure him I plan to conduct myself professionally and there’s no expectation of a deeper personal relationship. And I would start my job search yesterday because there’s just no way of knowing how this will play out, but indications are it won’t be in your favor.

    How would the LW know that the CEO has blocked all his siblings and his parents on LinkedIn and other social media? Did they all initiate contact with the CEO only to be rebuffed?

    1. Lady_Lessa*

      I’m thinking that the LW went to check the man’s LinkedIn profile, discovered that he couldn’t, and then asked others if they could see it.

      Sounds like something I might do as a check on whether it was me or if the whole profile was deleted.

  78. cncx*

    It’s just wild to me how families keep secrets. I imagine the ceo is acting from a place of shock and hurt, which doesn’t excuse it at all of course.

    My grandfather’s bio parents aren’t who they seem but this was the south. The thing is his bio dad and bio mom were really young when he was conceived and his « real » kids are my mother’s age. My grandfather lowkey knew the truth as did his children, but the bio dad never did (his bio mom was a family member of my grandad’s parents on paper). These are people who are now older but still alive (unlike my grandfather and his « parents » and bio mom who have been gone 40+ years) who could be very hurt by this kind of information because them not knowing is plausible as is not even knowing they should think something is amiss. What would dna solve for them personally? It would just raise questions with no answers, my mom is the only one of her generation left.

    One of the reasons my mom and I will never take dna tests. I have a further reason (given that in my grandad ‘s case three and four generations out dna gets less easy to peg) in that on my dad’s side they’ve all done dna and found some surprise family and more and like, I want no part in that drama given what has already come out. They were wilding and enough ppl have given dna to solve Forensic Files so I’m fine sitting this one out, as much as I love forensic genealogy’s role in crime solving.

  79. Toads, Beetles, Bats*

    I personally know two families who had some serious post-holiday hangovers from discounted DNA multi-kits. My dad always gave us windshield wiper fluid and that is feeling so, so wise now.

  80. TiffAch*

    It feels like it would be a good idea for anyone who is currently in a position of power, or who aspires to or anticipates eventually being in such a position, to carefully think through whether they want their DNA info out there like this. It’s an angle of DNA testing that I hadn’t ever thought about. While this CEO’s public and seemingly targeted reaction feels over the top and out of line, I can get where he or anyone else in this situation would potentially feel uncomfortable about such a discovery above and beyond whatever feelings one has about discovering potentially upsetting family secrets. I don’t think that necessarily means that people shouldn’t get tested or have their info open to matches (I don’t know how much flexibility you get on that), but it definitely warrants thinking through situations like these, where personal and professional lives accidentally collide in ways that could be emotionally charged on one or both ends.

    Or maybe this is something that people have thought about specifically. As someone who hasn’t taken a DNA test and who isn’t a CEO or manager, I never thought through this stuff before.

  81. Mehitabel*

    Yikes on bikes.

    I think Alison is right about freshening up your resume and starting, very quietly, to look around for other opportunities. Personally, I think that even if the CEO does regain his senses, the damage has already been done here.

    I thought about GINA as well, and the other thing that crossed my mind was that a conversation with an employment attorney might not be a bad idea. Especially if it becomes clear that you’re being retaliated against.

  82. Liz the Snackbrarian*

    Wow, CEO is way out of line here. I could see just sending a “Don’t bring this up at work” note but this is too much.

  83. Spapeggyandmeatballs*

    As someone who took an Ancestry test just for fun/interested in genetics and stumbled upon a HUGE family secret, the CEO is clearly freaking out. I think his level of overreacting shows that he most likely did NOT know that your bio father was his bio father. This kind of news can be devastating for some people who place value on lineage and heritage (I mean, in my case, it was so devastating that my bio father became a severe non-functioning alcoholic for 10 years). Your CEO went full nuclear and clearly wants NO contact from you. I wouldn’t send a note – I see it making things much worse. I’m sorry you are caught in the crosshairs, OP. It’s no fun at all when it’s not your secret but are caught dealing with the repercussions. Hugs.

    1. Looper*

      I’m so sorry about what your family went through because of DNA “surprises”, though sadly I’m sure yours isn’t the only family upended by genetic secrets being revealed. I agree that CEO is probably freaking out, though that’s cold comfort to the OP who is very likely at risk for losing their job over something completely out of their control. Just a huge mess all around with so many casualties.

  84. Posilutely*

    OP, whether you do or don’t send the note Alison suggested, I think you ought to give yourself, the CEO, your dad and your siblings some time before making any big decisions. Let the dust settle.

    My dad found out he had another child when he was 60, she was 40 and we (his three children he had brought up) were 18, 23 and 25. My half sister was the result of a fling when my dad was young, single and in the armed forces. He had no idea his fling partner became pregnant and it was a huge shock when the ‘baby’ tracked him down later in life!

    My dad was horrified that he had never known of her existence or supported her, panicked about his marriage in case my mum decided to leave him (she didn’t, but panic isn’t rational), and desperately worried that his existing three children would struggle to adjust to the news of a much older half sibling. Two of us (18 and 25) took the view that parents had lives before they were parents and that no-one was to blame for this world-disrupting news. The other one (23) kicked off in spectacular style and made everyone’s life a misery for a while, but even she settled down eventually.

    It’s a different situation because our half sibling knew she had a biological dad out there somewhere (she also grew up with a non-biological dad who she loves) so in theory it wasn’t a shock to her in the way that it presumably has been to your CEO – she came looking. But even so, she had no idea what she was going to find so she was terrified and she did make some odd choices and had some understandably volatile reactions of her own.

    This is hard stuff. Harder for you because of the work complication. There are all sorts of layers and nuances to everyone’s emotions that might take a while to come out. Curiosity about how this all came about will mask the rest for a while (I mean, not TOO much curiosity – I preferred not to know the exact details of my dad’s 1970s sexual shenanigans, thanks) but gradually you’ll all work through it, one way or another. And for us – thirteen years ahead of you – it’s all been peaceful now for many years.

    Good luck with it all, OP.

  85. 100%*

    Anyone else have Lizzo immediately start playing in their head upon reading the title?

    (also, ditto to everything Alison said)

  86. DinoGirl*

    CEO is already targeting. Point out GINA to HR, mention you perceive there’s indicatioj there’s already an issue, then look for a new job.

  87. Sarah M*

    Wow. I really wish OP didn’t need to start looking, but CEO’s batshit crazy reaction, and his weaponization of HR and OP’s manager (I am a lawyer. WTH is he thinking???) make it necessary.

    I agree with the advice to law low for now. Don’t react just yet, but make sure you have documentation for everything that’s already occured: all the emails, etc from HR re the training, plus any and all other written communication regarding same. If you haven’t already, write down your conversation with your manager to the best of your recollection asap. And, unfortunately, start sending resumes out. It also wouldn’t hurt to speak with an employment lawyer as a preliminary measure, to get advice.

    Also, while I have a smidgen of sympathy for CEO, he’s still behaving like a total ass – and given his transactional nature, stupidly. Good luck getting your paternal family’s medical history now, Bucko – especially since CEO is likely at the age when all sorts of fun congenital issues start cropping up. He’d better hope he doesn’t need a kidney or a bone marrow transplant, either. And yes, given that he’s weaponized his position to jeopardize OP’s livelihood, I’m totally fine with that statement.

  88. Alice Springs*

    OP should not send any notes. The extreme blocking by the CEO on any social media suggests he does not want to be contacted. Leave it at that.

    I would, however, put in writing with human resources that it concerns you that you were the only person singled out for a one on one conversation, and that he assumes the company is aware of GINA. Don’t even indicate that you are in possession of genetic information about another employee. Depending on the ethics levels of the folks in HR, they may or may not keep this confidential enough and OP could end up getting blamed.

    I don’t know if this was mentioned in the comments yet, but the mandatory training about nepotism suggests to me that the CEO spoke with an attorney who advised this as a CYA action. Still feels over the top – as OP works in marketing it is awkward for him to not be able to interact with the CEO on a social media platform such as LinkedIn.

    And then I would get busy documenting all successes in the current role and start looking for a new one, if, for no other reason than to just be able to work without this level of awkwardness.

    1. Aggretsuko*

      I wonder if there’s some way to slip GINA into an HR conversation, like “Just in case there was any issue with regards to anything of a possible relation nature,” not pointing out why it’s coming up or if that you have any idea why it might.

    2. Observer*

      I don’t know if this was mentioned in the comments yet, but the mandatory training about nepotism suggests to me that the CEO spoke with an attorney who advised this as a CYA action.

      You are probably right. But it’s hard to believe that the lawyer isn’t also aware of GINA.

      And then I would get busy documenting all successes in the current role and start looking for a new one, if, for no other reason than to just be able to work without this level of awkwardness.

      Unfortunately for the OP, true.

  89. Morning reader*

    I am wondering how “nepotism” plays a role at all here. The CEO’s legal father is not the LW’s father. LW’s father has never met him or been aware of his existence. LW has no brotherly relationship or history with CEO. Unless someone files a paternity suit, or belatedly gets adopted by his bio father, there is no familial relationship I can see.
    Seems to me the Gina law would be more relevant. The two parties have genes in common. But they are not related in the way we usually understand the term.

    1. Hydrangea McDuff*

      I was thinking about this too—and I think it’s a catch 22 the CEO is desperately and poorly trying to navigate, at a time when he also may be dealing with very emotional revelations.

      From his perspective (and HR’s and his legal team’s) he may be concerned that the organization *already,* albeit unknowingly, hired a close relative of his, which may put his own job on the line. He also certainly cannot ever allow LW to be promoted, regardless of how great they are. It all hinges on how literally the organization applies the nepotism rule, which was clearly written before DNA testing meant anyone can discover “relatives” who don’t meet the spirit of the term but certainly meet the letter of it.

      Poor LW. What an odd and ironic coincidence. And I’m very sorry that a twist of fate likely means they are at a dead end in this org.

  90. Out of Office - @ The Beach*

    I would suggest that you hold tight for a moment. Seriously consider contacting an employment lawyer. Tell the lawyer your situation. Remember that the CEO is just another employee. CEOs at times do lose their jobs for unethical behavior. The rest of the board that he is a part of, and answers to, might not agree with what he has done. WHEN they find out about it, and that an attorney is involved on your part, you might have more support than you realize. It will tell you what kind of company you are working for. Then work your out with the dignity you deserve.

    In the meantime, document the timeline of everything that has happened. Any conversations, emails, phone calls, meeting with your manager and HR. Even something small that might not make sense, but might help piece it all together.

    Best to you.

  91. Chris too*

    All I can think of is, at least he knows which employee is most likely to have a liver he can use if he needs to…what a mess!

  92. Danish*

    CEO is acting ridiculous. I’m sorry he’s making this into a drama and you might have to uproot your life and career due to his inability to Cope, LW. Another day another man in power ruining someone’s life due to his emotions he’s mistaking for logic.

  93. Kapers*

    To me this sounds like it could be the CEO getting some majorly conservative advice from HR/Legal, as well. I can see my company taking the position of “we have a nepotism policy so we have to avoid any appearance of running afoul of it. Block this person everywhere and make sure everyone’s been trained on the policy this year.”

  94. George*

    I am somewhat confused.
    1. How did your company get your results at all if this was a test given to you by your dad?
    2. How did something as specific as your CEO being your half brother come out? Did they take the test too?

    I am just confused.

  95. Elm*

    I feel for both of you. I wonder if he thought someone else was his dad and is dealing with that bombshell. Or maybe he was trying to find his dad, got excited, then got scared because his search was personal and now an employee knows and may talk–I mean, a surprise brother would likely be a work friend topic! Perhaps a lawyer advised him to do this as a cover your butt thing, and now he feels he can’t make contact with your dad or anyone else in the family, especially you.

    He’s human, and his feelings are likely complicated. My motto is “assume positive intent,” which essentially means 99% of things people do are intended to be good, and the bad things aren’t about you but about them. For instance, when I was a teacher, we were taught to frame upset parents as scared for their kids if they were upset rather than people out to “get us” (within reason).

    I’ve seen something similar happen to someone in my life, and even without the extra circumstances, it was like a punch in the gut.

    I don’t think there’s anything wrong with your family reaching out if they want to, btw. (Well, unless your family are jerks who may cause problems, but it doesn’t sound like that’s the case!)

    Even if it makes you a little squinchy (which I get!), your dad does have another kid out there and may want the chance at a hello or even a relationship. Or, it could be strictly informative, letting him know about medical history–at the very least, I would want to know that, as the not knowing or considering another “dad’s” history when making medical decisions could be detrimental to future care. You and dad can agree on whether your working in his company is kept quiet or not. If a relationship forms, it’s probably inevitable, but it’s not necessary at first.

    As far as HR, I’d go. Tell them that you don’t want to get the CEO directly involved because it’s such a sensitive matter, but you think it’s important for them to know because of any potential legal or interpersonal challenges. Unless you have a good relationship with HR, you don’t even need to bring up the meeting specifically. They’ll make the connection based on the timeline. “I’m not asking for anything, nor do I want CEO involved at this point. This has been a shock to my family, and I’m sure it’s one for him. I just want it noted in my file ASAP so any potential future issues related to GINA, office rumors, or anything else won’t come out of left field.”

    If your CEO comes to you, be honest: The relationship was a surprise to you as well, and you don’t think it will affect your working relationship. If you or he are open to a family thing, you can take it day by day.

    If you want to reach out to him, make sure your family is okay with it and that HR knows ahead of time. Make a plan beforehand. You don’t need to keep it 100% business. “I was surprised to find out I have another brother, and even though things are complicated because of work, if you want to get to know each other in that context, I’m open. If you’re not, that’s okay. I don’t see why this has to affect work in any way, and I plan to keep our relationship at work totally professional no matter what we do going forward.”

    Because you deserve this opportunity, too, if you want it. Life > work. You can find another job if you have to, but you can’t find another family. (Not that family is EVERYTHING to everyone. That’s a whole bag of worms, as I accidentally said once and now always say because it’s such a gross image, haha!)

    Good luck, and I hope all goes well as your family and boss process all of this.

    1. Despachito*

      I do not think a person related to me genetically is what I would call ” family” and that it should mean we should initiate contact with them. It can be a perfect stranger with no mutual interests whatsoever. In OP’s case they lived happily until now without knowing each other. A relationship is something you actively work on and cultivate, not something that just happens. And you definitely can find people you become closer with more than with your own family.

  96. Common Taters on the Ax*

    As far as I can tell I’m the only one who suspects this, but doesn’t it seem possible that CEO is overreacting because he’s been told his own job is at risk if he can’t absolutely ensure there are no issues and, preferably, no direct communication at all around the relationship? CEOs are not dictators and they generally can be fired. To me, every step taken sounds more like an HR overkill approach than a megalomaniac or guard-the-family-jewels a-hole approach.

    Good luck to the LW, but my choice would be to tell anyone who asks that you absolutely understand the policy and maybe even echo some of it back vaguely, e.g., “Yes, familial relationships should never affect our work relationships.” That seems to be the concern of whoever is insisting on these steps. If your job stagnates, you’ll want to leave at that point, but I wouldn’t assume that it will.

  97. JustMe*

    Never been in this situation (obviously) but I am in the weird half-sibling boat. (My half-sister from my dad’s previous marriage recently entered my family’s life.) The CEO is being extremely unprofessional but….you do have to consider that if your dad wasn’t in the picture, your CEO may have received all kinds of weird gossip/drama/untruths about his biological father all his life. My half-sister didn’t reach out to my family for a very long time because she had heard all kinds of nasty things about my dad from her mom. It wasn’t until she was an adult that she started to question whether it was true (or at least, more nuanced).

    I would advocate for talking to HR–if even just to pass a message to the CEO that you are harmless and don’t intend to interact with him any differently. Maybe that will make him come to his senses, and maybe prompt a conversation?

  98. Nuala*

    CEO might be adopted & that’s why he did the DNA, might even be at his spouse’s or children’s urging.
    It is also possible that he just found out his beloved father is not his biological father, and assumes either his mother cheated, or worse, that she was raped. Another possibility is that he is the result of a IVF from his mother’s egg & donated supermarket. The CEO might not want to open this can of worms with his (presumably elderly and possible fragile) parents, if they are still alive. He might be very fearful of anyone else knowing, lest his father somehow finds out.
    What an unfortunate situation.

  99. Martin*

    The OP could have a job for life. Surely once the CEO is suitably advised by HR, he will realise that he’d better not put a foot wrong.

    1. Madame Arcati*

      Could easily go the other way though – the ceo is so determined nobody should think op is being given advantages that they are disadvantaged at every turn; passed over for all opportunities; no recognition for good work, etc. So their career whilst at company is damaged or at best stagnates, and they are eventually forced to resign. Which would be a clear case of constructive dismissal here in smug old Blighty but aiui is not illegal in the US.
      Another reason to leave in OP’s own time when they have found a better opportunity elsewhere is that the ceo has shown you his personality pretty clearly. He’s aggressive, suspicious, high-handed, unjust and if not actually dishonest then lacks openness and doesn’t act fairly. Good reasons not to continue the business relationship any more than the bio one.
      Honestly. What kind of person hears they have a previously unknown half sibling and reacts by…punishing them? Even just ignoring the whole thing would be rational; I’m not saying they should play happy families. I need that gif they use on Reddit where a whole person goes flying into a dumpster.

  100. N9NJA*

    The question asker has already been discriminated against under GINA. Hire a lawyer and take everything the company is worth

Comments are closed.