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Gossiping About The Boss’s Alleged Affair

I should preface this story by saying that I’m no fan of anyone that I presently work with in my small department. In the 7 years I have worked here, each has done things specifically to harm me, by virtue of their own questionable morals, which I do not forgive, but accept. I cannot stand up to them to outside sources like supervisors or Human Resources because unfortunately the organization does not want to be involved unless the offense is so egregious that the law is violated. Their behaviors are unfortunately so calculated that they skate this line often, but never cross it. I should also say that although I am looking for other work opportunities, there are none that I can find to fit my needs so I stay.

Over the last week, I attended a conference with my boss, and a colleague (PJ) who is, for the purposes of this story, on the same level laterally as me. She frequently stirs up trouble, and has mentioned on a few occasions that she believes that the boss and his assistant (ST) are having an affair. In her mind, I’m sure she has conjured this story to explain why ST is given information and slack that the other employees are not. I have disregarded this as mean-spirited gossip, but one night at an event which had open bar, she had a few drinks and said she witnessed ST tucking the boss’ shirt in for him. The image was beyond gross to me, but she seemed to insist that something was going on.

Frankly, I don’t care if they are carrying on, because they are adults, and as long as I don’t see it, hear it, or otherwise become aware of it, it doesn’t affect me. However, after this last insistence by PJ, I’m concerned that she’s going to spread this rumor elsewhere. Considering that information like this would be particularly damaging, I have considered letting my boss know what’s been said. I don’t want to say anything to ST, because her reaction would not be a good one. My thought about telling my boss would be to nail down the source, if PJ does start telling other people outside our group, which could be hugely damaging. She has told me of her suspicions at least three times and we are not close, so I can only imagine what damage may already be done.

I should also say that while I had an axe to grind with these people in the past, I’ve really worked hard at letting go of my own resentments toward them. It’s not been easy, but although I do not like or trust them, I accept that they are bound to their own flawed humanity, and I must simply work around the crazy they throw down until I can find another suitable position. I also don’t want to burn bridges, since our industry is small, and everybody knows everybody.

I’m happy to let it go, but I’d hate for this type of gossip to be attributed to me, which is possible if it gets around. Your thoughts and feedback are very welcome. I’ll post in comments if this gets posted about what I decide to do and any fall out. Thanks in advance!  1111-13

Rule 1:  Never, ever believe defamatory gossip, particularly from people who are not your family or dearest most trustworthy friends, unless you are willing to do the investigative research to discover the truth.

Rule 2:  You are not responsible for the behavior of consenting adults during their non-working hours and that includes trying to police the gossip (and the consequences of her gossip on herself or others).  You are neither part of the problem (either the alleged adultery or the gossiping) nor the solution so keep your own nose clean by not getting involved in any manner.

Rule 3:  When PJ starts in on her gossip mongering, either change the subject quickly or tell her, “I’d really rather not hear this”, and leave the room.


Comments on this entry are closed.

  • hakayama November 18, 2013, 8:31 am

    Like the “Woman” (Admin.) said, MYOB and beandip. You truly are in an unenviable situation but, from the looks of it, you are coping relatively well.
    BUT…, unless there was a major, major, editing slip up, I’m left wondering about the following words:
    “….their own questionable morals, which I do not forgive, but accept.”

    What puts you, OP, in the position to forgive or condemn ANYONE’S morals?

  • clairedelune November 18, 2013, 8:33 am

    Completely agree with Admin–OP, STAY OUT OF IT. It sounds like you’re extremely gossip-averse in general, so I doubt anyone is going to peg you as the source.

    And for the record, I think we’re all “bound to [our] own flawed humanity” in one way or the other. Good grief.

  • Rachel November 18, 2013, 8:45 am

    Sound advice, but if the OP lets the gossip continue and it is later attributed to her, how will she address that and will anyone believe that she didn’t start the rumors?

  • siamesecat 2965 November 18, 2013, 9:01 am

    I say stay as far away from it as you can. If your workplace is a toxic as you say it is, nothing good can come of you giving your boss a “heads up” I say bean dip if she brings it up, but otherwise, let it be. You don’t want anyone accusing YOU of spreading gossip or anything having to do with any of this “alleged” affair.

  • Kirsten November 18, 2013, 9:16 am

    I agree with Admin. I wouldn’t touch this one with a bargepole, to be honest with you. Stay away from it, don’t mention it, don’t repeat it to anyone. Act as if you’ve never heard it – speaking to anyone about this would be ‘engaging the crazy’ in exactly the way this PJ wants. Plus it sounds a bit over-dramatic, to be honest. My office has this kind of rubbish go round all the time; I just ignore it.

  • Wild Irish Rose November 18, 2013, 9:37 am

    Admin is spot on here. Do NOT tell the boss what you’ve heard. If somehow it gets back to PJ that you said something, she is going to deny deny deny ever saying anything, unless she’s a total idiot. Your best bet is to keep your head down, your mouth closed, your opinions to yourself, and keep looking for another job. Good luck–that sounds like a truly poisonous place to work and I can’t blame you for wanting out. Meanwhile, say nothing about the boss and ST that you wouldn’t want them to know you said.

  • Elizabeth November 18, 2013, 9:53 am

    This isn’t your business. If your co-worker is a gossip, simply steer clear and do not participate. And you mention working hard to let go of resentment – I’m not sure I believe this. The entire first paragraph tells me the opposite and I wonder if you now see an opportunity to discredit PJ. Please keep yourself focused on your job responsibilities and don’t get drawn into the drama.

  • Allie November 18, 2013, 10:14 am

    I agree with Admin. You getting involved in any way will do nothing either to help or to deflect attention from you as a suspect should the gossip spread. Keep out of it. I hope you find a better position soon!

  • Cece November 18, 2013, 10:15 am

    Yikes, OP, I’m so sorry that you have to work in such a toxic environment. I’ve felt your pain, to a degree.

    I absolutely agree with Admin, in that not only should you not get any more involved, but that you should distance yourself further. I feel as though going to your boss exposes you to the risk of being associated with the rumor and/or being on the receiving end of something terrible from PJ, ST, or any of your other co-workers and you just plain don’t deserve that.

    Keep your nose super squeaky clean and get out alive. Good luck, OP.

  • PrincessButtercup November 18, 2013, 10:21 am

    Personally, the only thing I’d do is when the gossiper starts in, I’d respond with: “I really am not interested in any sort of personal activities that may or may not be going on. I am here to work. Now, do you have the file on…” AKA, not interested, lets get back to work.

  • Abby November 18, 2013, 10:25 am

    @ Hakayama-

    “What puts you, OP, in the position to forgive or condemn ANYONE’S morals?”

    It’s worded a bit awkwardly, but I took it to mean that OP felt that her coworkers questionable morals had led them to do some kind of wrong directly to OP, and OP was forgiving the wrong done against her, not the morals that led to do the wrong in the first place. But that’s just my interpretation.

    OP, this is a very easy slam dunk. Just stay out of it. Do not say anything that could be twisted around, do not repeat the gossip to anyone, etc. If PJ is known as a troublemaker, it will be pretty easy for your boss to infer who started the gossip.

    I can’t help but wonder, like Elizabeth, if this is truly a question about how to protect yourself from being blamed for gossiping (which, from your story appears to be quite a reach) rather than a question about the best way to tattle on PJ while maintaining the appearance of just wanting to protect yourself and your boss.

  • Mae November 18, 2013, 10:29 am

    Completely agree with Admin and pp. Do not get involved. If PJ starts to gossip about the alleged affair, leave the room. Speaking to your boss would probably get you fired and fingered as the source of the rumor, especially with the toxic work environment you describe.

    Good luck on finding another place of employment.

  • Magicdomino November 18, 2013, 10:29 am

    I don’t understand why the OP currently thinks she will be associated with the gossip. Odds are, PJ has told several people, and it sounds like the OP isn’t very sociable with her co-workers (Forgive me if I’m wrong, OP.), and therefore unlikely to spread gossip. In fact, telling her boss guarantees that she will be associated. Admin is right, concentrate on your work and stand clear of the fall-out.

    If in the past, the OP has been known to complain out loud about her co-workers’ issues

  • Tye November 18, 2013, 10:32 am

    “In the 7 years I have worked here, each has done things specifically to harm me, by virtue of their own questionable morals, which I do not forgive, but accept.”

    “although I am looking for other work opportunities, there are none that I can find to fit my needs so I stay”

    “I accept that they are bound to their own flawed humanity”

    Literally all of LW’s coworkers (and their “questionable morals”) have spent seven years pursing a concerted crusade against poor lil’ ole morally upstanding LW, who has absolutely no choice but to remain in the only job on planet earth for which they are suited? Unreliable narrator alert.

    Probably LW’s coworkers are gossipy, because people are often gossipy. LW is asking for permission to turn a gossipy workplace into a junior high cafeteria so that LW can continue to look down their nose at their coworkers and blame them for starting the fire that LW poured gasoline on.

  • Library Diva November 18, 2013, 10:38 am

    I can see that your intentions are coming from a good place, but I echo everyone else in advising you to stay out of this. If you’re concerned for the reputations of your boss and ST, consider this: you have already heard this from PJ three times and dismissed it, knowing that PJ enjoys stirring up trouble and seems to feel jealous that ST gets what she views as special treatment. Don’t you think that others will consider the source in the same way? This is not your problem, and it sounds like you have enough else going on at work to get sucked in to a drama that someone else is trying to create.

  • Stacey Frith-Smith November 18, 2013, 10:45 am

    I can see the temptation to avoid the train wreck you foresee, OP. Sadly, you cannot prevent this from splashing onto you if the gossip starts to fly. If you must have something proactive to do, document- to the best of your ability, EVERYTHING that exposes you to possible liability. It’s a little black book of insurance in case you are ever called to account for what you have not done. Step up your efforts to find another position. It seems like a hollow victory to remain on your job and in your industry but be forced to suffer through the vagaries of the Office Life Live soap opera you describe. You seem like a conscientious person with a very defined sense of right and wrong and like someone who would take an offense to heart in part because you would never dream of acting that way.
    I don’t see how you can mend fences this far into the game with your current group. You see them as guilty of severe misconduct and unlikely to change. That view is going to color all of your interactions with them. You are to be commended for the work you have done to coexist peacefully with them- but if you MUST stay where you are to thrive in your career then a career or personal coach who can help you revamp your perspective and realign your professional energies is in order- because you will truly need to rise above it all to proceed.

  • David November 18, 2013, 10:55 am

    OP, just completely stay out of it. Right now you can truthfully state that you have never seen any evidence that the rumor is true. All you have is hearsay and PJ doesn’t sound like a trustworthy witness.

    Also – even if it were true that she tucked his shirt in for him, that doesn’t mean they are having an affair. While I would find it irritating if someone did that for me without telling me about my shirt, I have known a couple women who would do something like that to another adult the way they would do it to their child – without thinking about anything but that the shirt bothered their sense of order.

    Like Wild Irish Rose stated – keep your head down and your mouth closed while you look for a better place to work.

  • ferretrick November 18, 2013, 11:06 am

    Admin is spot on. Never spread gossip and never listen to it. Stay far, far way from this one. However good your intentions, there is no way this DOESN’T turn into a shoot the messenger situation. You’ve already stated the organization doesn’t care about anything that doesn’t violate the law, and you will have no proof when PJ denies everything, so it will all blow back on you. Pretend you never heard this, and the next time PJ starts in, just excuse yourself, bean dip, or say directly “I don’t want to know about this. Please leave me out of it.” It would not be a bad idea after you do that to follow it up with a confidential email to PJ stating that you just want to reaffirm what you told her in person, that you do not want to hear anything further about boss and his assistant or any other gossip. Send it read receipt and keep the notification.

  • startruck November 18, 2013, 11:07 am

    stay 100 percent out of it. people always shoot the messenger, and if you go to your boss and tell him what you have heard, he will automatically assume that this gossip is being spread by you. if someone ask you about it, you know nothing . if someone tells you about it, you suddenly need to leave the room.

  • Cat November 18, 2013, 11:07 am

    How you feel about your co-workers isn’t the problem; the problem is a situation in which you are not directly involved ,but for which you have some concerns.
    I had a similar problem when I was a young teacher. I had a student in class who wasboth blind and mentally handicapped. She could not pick up social clues and had a fixation on band teachers. She frequently said her former band teacher had tried to sexually assault her. She was twenty-one years old and in high school.
    Our assistant principal, for reasons I will never understand, gave her the home address of a band teacher at another high school. She wrote the young teacher and he, believing that he had met her at a party, responded to her letter, which she gave to me to read. He had no idea of her handicaps nor did he realize her fixation.
    When she sent him her photograph, he realized that he did not know her and never responded again. She became very upset and wrote him numerous letters saying that he was supposed to date her so they could get married. I was afraid that she would make accusations against him as she had done before to another teacher and perhaps cast a shadow on his reputation.

  • Vrinda November 18, 2013, 11:18 am

    Hakayama, did you read the whole sentence?

    It says: “In the 7 years I have worked here, each has done things specifically to harm me, by virtue of their own questionable morals, which I do not forgive, but accept.”

    These people have done harm to the OP because of their questionable morals, so OP is within her right to question and forgive or condemn them. If their ammorality had no effect on her, she would have no reason to think anything about them, but they have effected her.

  • Lerah99 November 18, 2013, 11:21 am

    Workplace drama is the worst. Follow the admin’s advice. The BEST policy is to steer clear of ALL gossip. If you are known for being unwilling to listen to or participate in gossip of any sort, then messes like this are very unlikely to end up back on your doorstep.

  • Lisatoo November 18, 2013, 11:22 am

    They could be setting you up, if they are as calculated as you say.
    Also, I agree that your story does not sound sincere in some areas. If what they’ve done to you is horrible, then that is understandable, but it’s important to stay aware of your own flaws as well; You do sound a bit judgemental and as if you WANT some drama to happen.
    Just stay out of it, and be professional.

  • Dee November 18, 2013, 11:52 am

    Absolutely stay out of it. Be teflon. Stay clean. By warning the boss you are putting yourself smack dab in the center of it all and assuming responsibility that you don’t want. And why the worry about a boss who doesn’t seem to care enough about you to build a workplace that is respectful and harmonious? Seems he is only reaping the “rewards” of the toxic work environment he forces you to tolerate.

  • HollyAnn November 18, 2013, 12:02 pm

    @hakayama, I suspect that you would have no trouble condemning the morals of, let’s say, a grown man who instigated sexual relationships with 15 year old girls. We have a responsibility to condemn the morals of people who are doing wrong.

  • AS November 18, 2013, 12:16 pm

    This reminds me of a group of vicious gossipers that I was working with just after I finished college.. The difference is that they had picked me as the person to gang up on, and would spread horrible rumors about me (at least OP’s colleagues spread rumors about everyone). I used to even share an apartment with two of them! At one point, I had flipped off on one them, because she started berating me – when I returned home from work at 10PM – that I hadn’t cleaned up the kitchen counter, and I when I pointed out that she was the one who hadn’t cleaned it up, she started accusing me God-knows-what! (I was still trying to fix some dinner, and whatever was out was from before). I listened for a while, and flipped off at her. The next day, she went around complaining to everyone in the group, including the bosses, about how much I had traumatized her! My immediate boss waited for a day to see if I had something to say about it, and then called me to go get some coffee and have a chat. What had surprised me was that he totally supported me, and said that I could have talked to him earlier if I was having so much trouble with my colleagues! I said that I didn’t want to bother him. The good thing that came out of it was that my boss gave me an extra nice recommendation letter (maybe he would have given me one, I don’t know. 🙂 ). Let me point out that this was one time that her accusation was actually true, albeit probably exaggerated, but very often, their accusations were not even true. I know because a friend of mine had later asked me a few things to see if they are true or not, because she used to find it hard to believe most of it. She is the only one who remained my friend from the group.

    OP, I think you should just ignore your annoying gossip-mongers in your office. Keep bean-dipping every time they start something. If you think that your boss’s job is at stake, you could warn him about what is being said. But I don’t think you can do much, because gossipers will find something or the other to fault with. When you don’t need real incidences, it is not hard to cook up a story and start a rumor. Some people just don’t grow up beyond their high school mentalities. It is their problem, and not yours.

  • Calli Arcale November 18, 2013, 12:19 pm

    Rachel asked the question “Sound advice, but if the OP lets the gossip continue and it is later attributed to her, how will she address that and will anyone believe that she didn’t start the rumors?”

    That’s a difficult situation. There is absolutely no winning answer, but I think your best bet really is not to tell anyone at all. You can be accused of gossipping (in an environment like this, you can probably be accused of anything) but if you don’t habitually tell people things, then it’s unlikely such a rumor would be believed. And if it was, in spite of your obvious reluctance to gossip, then there’s nothing you can do about it anyway.

    Gossip is like thermonuclear war. As the computer said in War Games, it’s a “Strange game. The only winning move is not to play.”

  • Stepmomster November 18, 2013, 12:43 pm

    You ever hear the expression “Don’t shoot the messenger?”

    Don’t be the messenger. Your Boss would be just as upset about you hearing the gossip and running to him about it as he would the office gossiping about it. You will also have the side affect of making him uncomfortable about his assistant, which might ultimately lead to either her dismissal or yours. Let your gossip hound friend dig her grave with her tongue and stay out of it. If anyone even breathes about it in your direction, a polite but firm “I have no opinion about that, and it is none of my business” should serve.

    Professionalism = leave the drama llama at home.

  • Green123 November 18, 2013, 12:55 pm

    This is a good opportunity for us to share office-based examples of the bean dip. ‘So, did you see there’s a new photocopier in the main office? Technology these days is so clever!’ Etc…

  • EllenS November 18, 2013, 1:14 pm

    OP, you’ve done a good job so far of keeping your head above water and looking for a way out. Stay focused on that and let PJ dig her own grave, if she is bent on it. It is not your job to defend your boss against gossip, or to protect your coworkers from the consequences of their own gossiping.
    Your best defense against any future accusations of gossipmongering is, to never, ever, listen, repeat or participate in gossip.
    As Admin suggested, “I’d rather not hear this” or, if it is thrown back at you in the future, “I don’t pay attention to gossip.”
    Good luck on your job hunt!

  • Rebecca November 18, 2013, 1:21 pm

    There’s a reason the saying “don’t shoot the messenger” exists. It’s usually very difficult for people to separate the anger they feel over bad news from their feelings about the person delivering it. It may be irrational, but your boss may resent you for bringing it up rather than thanking you for it.

    Steer clear. Don’t indulge in even listening to the gossip. Stay as uninvolved as you can so that you can truthfully say you know nothing about it.

  • Lisa November 18, 2013, 2:02 pm


    Also, why would you be accused of being the source of the gossip unless you’ve been previously gossiping? Methinks thou doth protest too much!

  • Alex November 18, 2013, 2:23 pm

    I agree that this is *usually* sound advice. However, I believe strongly in CYA.
    OP: If there is a chance that this will be attributed, or blamed upon you for starting the rumor, then you DO need a way to CYA. Not sure what this may mean for you in your company. Go to your supervisor’s superior and let them know you have heard gossip, and don’t want it attributed to you in any way. Make it clear that you think its none of your business, and that you don’t want anything to do with it, but you don’t want anyone else thinking you do either.

    or, go to your boss, or HR. HR can certainly document your complaint, even if they do not investigate.

    And give a WIDE berth to the gossiping co-worker. If possible, let others know you are doing so, because you don’t want to ‘get caught up in some drama she is starting.’

    Good luck. Its sounds like a toxic environment.

  • ImJustSaying November 18, 2013, 2:35 pm

    If YOU bring the affair rumors to the attention of your boss than the gossip train will be attributed to YOU. I would have a hard time believing the “SoandSo is spreading rumors about your affair” line. This reads like a soap opera where the truly evil character is trying to cast doubt on others to keep out of the light.
    Do Not Say Anything.

    If your coworker is so free with the gossip your boss will have no trouble figuring out who spilled the secret.

  • ImJustSaying November 18, 2013, 2:35 pm


  • MichelleP November 18, 2013, 3:10 pm

    Oh, been there done that. Keep your mouth shut and keep looking for another job. Life is too short to put up with a toxic workplace. Don’t engage the crazy.

    I worked for a family owned small business for a few years. The family had a lot of problems and some of them did their best to bring me into it. As well as being difficult to work for, they gossiped about each other and it was hard to not get involved in their family drama as well. I tried bean dipping and when that didn’t work, blatantly told all of them to leave me out of their family drama. Their other employee ended up making me look bad too because she wanted her daughter to have my job, so it was a nightmare all around. I just avoided her as much as I could. Get another job soon, OP. Good luck.

  • RC November 18, 2013, 5:30 pm

    Stay well clear! Don’t pass on gossip, even with good intentions, it still makes you part of the problem.

    I also agree with previous commenters who have questioned your intentions; I do not like the judgemental tone with which you speak of others’ morals, and using terms such as “bound to their own flawed humanity” rubs me up the wrong way; however that may be just my own interpretation and reaction, and I simply caution you to not be judgemental of others.

    Good luck OP, I hope you can find something else. Until then, grin and bear it.

  • Tanz November 18, 2013, 6:05 pm

    I’m with admin 100%: distance yourself from it and gossipy co-worker. No good can come of getting involved in any way with this.

  • LizaJane November 18, 2013, 8:23 pm

    While reading this, I felt like the OP went into great detail about how awfully flawed everyone else in her office is while she remains on her higher plane. Why? Why not just ask the question? She fears the gossip will be blamed on her. Why? She told us a lot of stuff we didn’t need to know and left out a very important piece of information.

  • Karen T November 18, 2013, 9:07 pm

    @Tye, I think you are absolutely right. I also think the OP is doing too good a job of pointing out everyone else’s flaws, while ignoring her own.
    In my experience, when someone has an issue with multiple people, you have to look at the common factor. In this case it seems to be OP. Perhaps the ‘moral issues” are actually a result of her own attitude.

    I also don’t understand why OP thinks she might be blamed for gossip that someone else is spreading, unless there is more to this story than she is letting on. People aren’t stupid. I really doubt that everyone is going to jump in on the “lets make OP our scapegoat” brigade. That implies that everyone in her department is actively trying to harm her (professionally and/or emotionally) and while there may be one or two people that fit the bill, it’s really unlikely that everyone there has it in for her. UNLESS she has done something to bring it on herself…. In which case see my first paragraph.

    There’s a lot in this post which is ringing my alarm bells….

  • GG November 18, 2013, 10:18 pm

    Why are you scared that the rumor will be blamed on you? If you keep your distance from the gossip mongers and just focus on your work then there is no way the rumor can be attributed to you. You said yourself that you and PJ are not close and that you do not like or trust your coworkers. If things are really this bad then do not waste your energy listening to PJ’s gossip. If you remove yourself completely from the situation then she will eventually make her own bed and get caught without your help. Don’t get involved.

  • hakayama November 18, 2013, 11:26 pm

    I’d be willing to wear a dunce cap for improper interpretation of LW’s text, if it UNEQUIVOCALLY stated that it was the bad deeds against her that she was condemning (but accepting? WTH?).
    As is, it really looks like she strongly disapproves of her coworkers’ lack of moral fiber, but is resigned to put up with (accept) their immorality (or is it amorality?).
    To put things in perspective, we have to admit that there’s a very wide gap in character flaws that lead to criminal behavior (such as corrupting the morals of a minor) and the “garden variety” nastiness to one’s work mates. Some might want to put it in terms of mortal vs. venial sin. Others can see it in terms of chargeable offense vs. ___(you fill in the blank).
    While I would not hurt the likes of the LW intentionally, I am certainly glad not to be her office mate. I just might slip up and utter a mild profanity in her presence… 😉

  • L November 19, 2013, 12:02 am

    Absolutely letter-perfect advice by Admin! Do not engage! If your name somehow gets attached, it sounds like the office environment is contentious enough that someone else will be happy to rat out the real gossip-monger!

  • Lex November 19, 2013, 5:29 am

    I can see your quandary here in that if you say and do nothing you are probably frightened that PJ is going to suggest that you started the rumour (because it sounds like she’d have no problem throwing you under the bus). Gossip can be toxic so your best approach is to be as obvious as possible and to as many people as possible in rejecting gossip. When ANYONE starts gossiping, make it clear that you don’t wish to be involved in Gossip. You don’t need to be aggressive or combative about it just simply state that you don’t want to participate in gossip. This will quickly earn you a reputation as a non-gossiper so if someone tries to suggest that you are the source of gossip, it will generally be understood by all that this is not the case.

    I was pulled into a disciplinary based on something someone CLAIMED to have witnessed me doing at a training event. It was alleged that I ‘threw a tantrum’ and ‘shouted’ because the buffet was poorly stocked with food I wouldn’t eat. This was NOT the case. I would never do such a thing. As it happens I simply said to a colleague that the buffet did not meet my dietary needs and that I would be going out to a local supermarket to find something more appropriate.

    Not a single witness statement backed up these ridiculous claims and no-one recalled me saying or doing what I was accused of, however because the complaint came from the trainer (who was an aggressive and unpleasant man) and not from someone internal to the organisation, despite the evidence to the contrary the complaint was STILL upheld and I was issued a written warning re: conduct.

    In hindsight I should have taken it to a tribunal…

    The reason I tell this story is to illustrate that you MUST protect yourself with as much evidence as you can as the truth is usually irrelevant. It doesn’t matter what you do or don’t say, the minute someone suggests you’ve done something you are at risk. The best way to prevent this is to shore up your defences. It sounds like you work in a horrible environment and I hope your job hunt comes to fruition soon.

  • Angela November 19, 2013, 7:58 am

    When a person brings up a rumor like this around you repeatedly, she is trying to use you to spread the rumor. Don’t let yourself be used. And the advice about not spreading gossip is spot on. If you establish a reputation for yourself as someone who doesn’t gossip, it’s going to be hard for your colleague to make others believe that the rumor came from you.

  • SV November 19, 2013, 8:01 am

    This does not concern you. Keep it that way.

  • Wendy B. November 19, 2013, 10:42 am

    If you don’t think the boss having an affair will not affect you, think again.

    Stay out, find another job, even if it is in another field with a pay cut.

  • shhh its me November 19, 2013, 11:29 am

    I’m going to agree with almost everyone. No good can come of repeating this.

    @ Alex. Going to Boss’s Boss will likely end badly. If Boss would not have blamed OP for spreading the gossip , he certainly will once she repeats to his boss. Nothing will make a person more curious then “PJ is spreading gossip about boss.” so being vague won’t help. IF OP was the person most likey to be blamed by boss getting in front of it by altering his boss there are rumors of an affair wont make her look innocent just manipulative.

    IF an employee can to me to complain about a co worker gossiping I would consider the possibility she/he wanted to report the affair under the guise of reporting the gossip.

  • Angel November 19, 2013, 12:07 pm

    Don’t say anything to anyone about what your coworker is going on about. It doesn’t matter what the gossip is about. The thing is, it doesn’t concern you. If you don’t gossip and you don’t talk to your coworkers about anything other than professional matters, then I don’t see how gossip could possibly be attributed to you.

    Keep looking for another job, eventually you will find one that’s a better fit. But remember no workplace is perfect. There will probably always be people you work with that you don’t like. But if you’re not there to make friends anyway, it shouldn’t be that big of a deal.

  • Fung November 19, 2013, 1:29 pm

    What I’m wondering about while reading OP’s story, is if all those horrible things have happened to you and you didn’t felt supported or even heard by those in charge… then why are you feeling so responsible to prevent or protect your boss or ST for the possible outcome of the gossips? If you’re already on the look out for another job why can’t you let it slide and ignore PJ? It’s one thing to feel involved workwise but to be involved in other persons personal life? It’s not in your jobdescription or even your responsibility. So yes, listen to ADMIN and stay far away from it.

    I too have worked in a toxic office and yes, I too have been hurt and the object of gossip and other stuff, and yes, I too wasn’t taken seriously or supported by my manager or HR, but since I’ve never ever got myself involved in any toxic / gossip games of my former coworkers I got the benefit of the doubt from other workers in the company. Yes, I quit there without even finding another job but started to work as a temp, and yes, I’ve got several jobs at several companies and yes, I found better and healthier coworkers and workplaces. At every company I’ve worked they’ve managed to let me stay longer than I was supposed to. Though some would say that I made a big big mistake for leaving a well-paid and steady job without even another job in my pocket, I must say ( and others later admitted) that it was my best decision ever. Having fun at work and going to work every morning with a big smile on your face, all the money in the world can’t buy you that.