Let’s consider some bad (or even illegal) boss behavior. As you enter this person’s world, ask yourself how you might react to this continuing scenario:
In the second segment of the series: Harry: The Morally Challenged Boss, we learned that a worker had discovered that his newly hired boss had a criminal record that he didn’t reveal during his interview process.
Harry had a DUI a few years back and then paid a lawyer to have that information expunged from the public record, after which he went through a court-ordered DUI-related program. The worker then reported that information to the President of the company, who decided to hire Harry on a temporary basis. The worker agreed that Harry should be given a chance and was probably just embarrassed about that personal situation and simply needed a job.
For those who missed the first two parts of this story, here are links to Part 1 and Part 2.
We are now at the point in the story where Harry is confronting the employee who learned about his hidden past.
The morning surprise
Every member of the Executive Staff was on summer vacation when the last day of Harry’s trial period finally arrived. It had been a tense 89 days.
When you walked into your office that morning, you found a newspaper clipping that listed four of your county’s most wanted criminals in a weekly Sheriff’s notice. There were hand-written notes, on both sides of the clipping, that compared you to the criminals and cited your own ethnic background.
You recognized that it was Harry’s handwriting and now had to determine what to do before he arrived.
I was just joking
You knew that you had evidence in your hands. So, you took the clipping out to your car and placed it inside your glove box.
After returning, even though you were fuming inside, you decided to say nothing to anyone about this matter. Instead, you would report it to the President of the company that night. You would also speak with an attorney after your work day was over.
Initially, Harry said nothing after he arrived. Later that morning, he came into your office and suggested that you may have seen the clipping on my desk, but that he just wanted you to know that he was just joking. You didn’t verbally respond, but simply shook your head yes.
The remainder of the day involved little contact and minimal verbal exchanges that only related to business. Except for when Harry also decided to show you what it was like to be frisked by a police officer (as he was the night he was arrested for DUI) and then put you into a mock-arm lock in front of your desk.
You knew and Harry knew that you weren’t going to let either of these incidents go untold.
Meeting with the President, again
After calling and then meeting with an attorney after work, you also contacted the President that night. You didn’t tell him what the matter specifically involved, but did say that it involved Harry, and that it involved a breach of company policy and the law.
He agreed to meet with you at a restaurant before work began on Monday morning, during which you provided him with a copy of the newspaper clipping. He said that he would consider what you had told him. He also said if he were you, he would have asked Harry, “What the hell is this?”, after which he finished his breakfast.
Harry was called into the President’s office after he arrived at work on Monday morning. After that meeting was over, you were called into the President’s office.
The President advised you that he believed that you had overreacted to the all of the matters, that Harry was just “fooling around”, that you had “alleged” that Harry had frisked you and put you into an arm lock and that you shouldn’t take matters so seriously. He told you that Harry was your boss and that you were going to have to get along with him.
You advised that you would no longer travel with Harry alone at any time and that you would not work behind closed doors with him. The President responded by saying that he didn’t believe that was possible, considering the sensitive nature of your Human Resources position.
Upon leaving the President’s office you walked directly across the hall and saw that Harry was behind the desk of his office. You then heard Harry call a friend of his who had been in political office. He loudly told this person that all had been resolved and that he didn’t need his help. He then came into your office through the opened adjoining door with a broad smile on his face.
Upon the advice of your attorney, you were urged to file a report with the State Human Relations Commission. You asked if you did so would any potential future employer be able to access that information through a background check? The answer you received was not conclusive.
As you were contemplating that legal advice (and after having also spoken to another attorney and having gotten the same response), something else happened within the next week.
You were advised by your employer that another job (at a higher rate of pay) was available within the company and that everyone felt that it was best that you interview for it.
A few weeks later, Harry gave you your annual review, which included his written comments that you took matters too seriously and had to learn how to get along better with your supervisors and co-workers.
You had been honored as one of the outstanding employees within your company prior to Harry’s arrival, had only missed work twice in three years as a result of sickness and had never taken any vacation days. There were zero disciplinary actions, or any type of negative items, within your employment file.
After choosing not to pursue legal recourse and after not accepting the interview, you were downsized later that year, as a result of “structural changes”. Among the 800 employees in the company, you were the first person to be affected by these changes.
You later learned that no other employees were being downsized within the company at that time. Some of your friends at work told you that another person was hired to replace you, in exactly the same capacity, approximately six months after you were let go.
Unused vacation days, in the form of a lump sum payment, served as a financial bridge to your next position. The person who owned that company (and was also your boss) became one of the best supervisors you had worked for in your career.
For those who missed the stories about other morally challenged bosses, here are links to Marcie: The Morally Challgenged Leader and Ralph: The Morally Challenged Leader.
Sean O’Brien was a print sports writer for five years. Read his Blog: Insight and follow him on Twitter @ SeanyOB.
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