“JT & Dale Talk Jobs” is the largest nationally syndicated career advice column in the country and can be found at JTandDale.com.
Dear J.T. & Dale: I have been a server at the same restaurant for three years. In this time, my boss Jack [names changed] has been having an affair with Candy, who was in a relationship with my husband’s friend Kyle. There were rumors about this affair, and Jack’s wife filed for divorce. Then Kyle and Candy’s relationship went sour and he kicked her out of the house. I ran into my husband’s friend Kyle a couple of days ago, and he asked me how long I’d known about Jack and Candy’s relationship. I said for a couple of months. I did not know that Kyle was tricking me into confirming that these rumors were true. My question is, Can I be fired for this? I mainly answered a question. I really am nervous about the safety of my job. — Tammi
DALE: Well, that’s quite the spicy restaurant you’ve found yourself in. If I have this straight, there were two couples: Jack and Mrs. Jack, and Kyle and Candy. Now both couples have broken up, leaving four free agents. While there is plenty of guilt and anger to go around, none of it should be directed at you, so I’m not sure why you’re nervous.
J.T.: Here’s why: When I asked HR specialist Ben Eubanks for his response to this situation, he said:
“Everything hinges on whether or not this gets back to the boss and if he holds her accountable. Tammi should ask herself, ‘What do you think he would do if he found out you spoke with Kyle?’ Without knowing him, it’s tough to say, but this is a situation that happened outside the workplace and should not have an impact on any decision regarding your employment. That said, if management wants you fired, they usually can come up with some justification to make it happen.”
DALE: In other words, it shouldn’t happen, but it could. However, stop worrying and put that energy into your work. Make sure you’re the star server and that all the regular customers ask for you. Own that clientele, and make yourself the last person the boss would want to lose, which happens to be the best way to keep any job.
Jeanine “J.T.” Tanner O’Donnell is a professional development specialist and the founder of the consulting firm, JTODonnell.com, and of the career management blog, CAREEREALISM.com. Dale Dauten resolves employment and other business disputes as a mediator with AgreementHouse.com.
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