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My Boss Is Having An Affair & I Work With His Wife – How To Handle Inappropriate Work Relationships

The owner of our small business appears to be having an affair.  “Barry’s” office is about ten feet from my desk and the door is always open, so I hear everything he says.  For the past month, Barry has been having highly suggestive phone conversations with a woman whom he apparently sees in the evenings or on weekends.

To make matters worse, Barry’s wife works here, although she’s located on the other side of the building.  If she happens to walk by during one of these calls, he immediately hangs up.  Barry knows I can hear him, so he obviously expects me to keep this information secret.  This seems very unfair because I regularly work with his wife.

I should also mention that Barry is extremely condescending and often makes sexist remarks, even though all ten of our employees are female.  Although I’m sick of Barry’s behavior, I don’t want to quit because I love my job and my coworkers.  I’m feeling very powerless and unsure about what to do.

Marie’s Answer

Anyone who broadcasts an adulterous relationship with his wife nearby is either a complete idiot or hoping to get caught.  But regardless of Barry’s motivations, becoming involved in his marital issues would be a recipe for disaster, so your best bet is to continue ignoring these indiscretions.

As for Barry’s other offenses, you could attempt to have a calm, professional talk about how his condescending and demeaning language is affecting the staff.  However, given that he seems neither mature nor reasonable, that would probably be a fruitless effort which could put your own job at risk.

Your sense of powerlessness is shared by many employees of small, privately owned companies, because under those circumstances, the owner has almost complete control.  Realistically, therefore, you will ultimately have to decide whether the benefits of this job outweigh the fact that your boss is an insensitive jerk.