Dealing with your boss’ irrational wife

by Evil HR Lady on January 13, 2012

Dear Evil HR Lady,

My boss and I seem to have run into a huge problem. I have worked for him as a consultant for 3 years. We were in the middle of starting a new real estate firm, of which I have become a full-time employee as opposed to the self-employed consultant, but this has just begun in the past few weeks. Well, his wife has suddenly taken on a huge jealousy of me. I’m not sure why other than I’m a fairly likable person and she…well, isn’t. I have been in the middle of working on getting the office together, internet up, decorated etc., and once the decorating part hit, she found out we were at a floral shop together and everything went down from there.

We had a difference of opinion on a counter top my husband built, and when I found out that she tore that one out and hired a new contractor to install a new one, I lost it. Yes, unprofessional, but I apologized and after posting something on Facebook without using anyone’s name (and blocking her from seeing my stuff), she logged into her husband’s account and found the post, again, no names. Well today, she insisted that my boss make a decision; either fire me today or she is divorcing him and taking the kids. After many long phone conversations with me, he told me that he has to fire me in order to get her to calm down (I believe there might be a bipolar tendency coming out at this point, but could be wrong). So he is going to continue to pay me, I’m going to work from home and we will figure it all out later.

My question is, is this legal? My boss does not want to fire me. In fact, he told me that he doesn’t want to open this business without me. So he’s open to any loopholes we can find so that I’m not fired. I just cannot believe that all of this happened over a stupid counter top. I found it in very poor taste to trash someone’s work, and I said so. Whether he was paid wasn’t the issue to me. I see it as someone commissioning a painting being done, and then throwing it out on the lawn to be put in the trash. Anyhow, I know I’m repeating myself, but I’m trying to be as thorough as I can about this. Oh, I’m also a named VP/Secretary of the new corporation as well as a signer on the business and escrow account (she doesn’t know any of this). What exactly should I do at this point?

To read the answer click here: Dealing with your boss’ irrational wife

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Dawn January 13, 2012 at 8:49 pm

Being at a floral shop with your married boss isn’t very common. Unless the plan is to have fresh flowers at the reception desk every day, I think the wife has a right to be suspicious.

I understand you’re hurt that the wife didn’t like your husband’s work, but if they paid for it, who cares what they do with it? It’s theirs to do what they want with. They own it. And why would you post something on your boss’s Facebook page about his wife and expect no one to see it? This is a start-up company and there seems to just be the three of you. If you’re posting about her, and he isn’t the one who wrote it, you’re the logical suspect.

Your boss has to live with his wife so it’s up to him to deal with her. If that means firing you, so be it. Is it legal? Yes. Most states are at-will, which means they can fire you for pretty much any reason as long as it’s not based on a protected class.

I’d recommend moving on to another job. Nothing good can come of being in the middle of your boss and his jealous wife. If you’re having to work behind her back, there’s going to come a point where she finds out and that will get ugly.

Reply

Alison Green / Ask a Manager January 13, 2012 at 9:11 pm

Also, posting something about the wife on Facebook, knowing that the husband would see it, is really bad. It implies that you think the husband will be on your side, not his wife’s — and moreover, that he’ll be okay with you badmouthing his wife — and that’s really not good. It’s not good if he’s okay with it, and it’s not good if he’s not. Either way it’s a violation.

Reply

Dawn January 13, 2012 at 10:27 pm

That’s what I was thinking, but couldn’t articulate. The Facebook thing gives me the impression it’s her and the husband vs. the wife.

Reply

fposte January 14, 2012 at 12:18 am

I think she’d like it to be, anyway. I’m not sure the guy’s as on board as she’d like him to be–he’s looking for a “loophole” to avoid firing her? Given that he’s not remotely obliged to fire her, that sounds to me like a man who may not be that sorry about the situation.

I’m mildly fascinated by the way she segues from her apologizing to her posting something nasty on Facebook in the sentence that’s supposed to be about the craziness of the *other* person.

Reply

Evil HR Lady January 14, 2012 at 6:54 am

I totally think its her + boss against the wife. She did write me back and said, “I can see why this might look like an affair.”

Yeah, because when you friend a member of the opposite sex and block the spouse, that looks suspicious all right

Reply

Another Evil HR Director January 13, 2012 at 10:35 pm

When will people learn to stop posting every aspect of both their personal and professonal life on Facebook? Are ya kidding me? Did you really expect that to remain “private”? Frankly, this is your own fault, your own doing. Your boss, and presumably, his wife, have a right to “trash” anything they’ve paid for, whether it hurts your feelings or not. And yes, he can fire you. Consider this a lesson. Stay TFO Facebook!

Reply

Evil HR Lady January 14, 2012 at 6:56 am

One of my FB friends just posted this video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QXK0AnWGXwE&feature=channel_video_title

It’s from Ellen (the show, not some random person I know named Ellen) and she puts up pictures from Facebook from people in her audience. She concludes with, “You really should check your privacy settings!”

Ummm, yes.

Reply

Lilylee January 14, 2012 at 7:25 pm

I worked at a place where one of the male managers offered to help me move. I was single at the time. He had never made any advances to me nor did I have any indication he might like me. Or maybe I was just slow in perceiving something. No matter, whether he was just being nice or otherwise I thanked him and said I had help.

Yeesh…. married man offering to help the single lady….just not a good combination. It could look bad even if it was totally innocent.

As for the poster, boundaries were crossed. She clearly thinks she is number one in this show. As for her boss trying to think of ways to keep her employed…. RED FLAG. Although none of the posters business what he lies to his wife about, her thinking it is OK is a problem since she is part of the lie. That does not say a lot for the poster.
The poster needs to find another place of employment. Keep her distance from her bosses, co-workers and stop thinking she is the center of the workplace

Reply

JustTheFacts January 15, 2012 at 7:15 pm

I’m somewhat surprised by the level of blame being hurled solely at the letter writer.

Remember, the man, her boss, is also complicit in the perception and reality of inappropriate behavior. He willingly accompanied her to the flower shop; he accepted her friend invite on Facebook; he is OK with keeping her employment with the agency a secret from his wife; he trusts her with high levels of responsibility within the newly formed company.

I do not excuse her rash decision to post unflattering comments about her boss’ spouse on Facebook (names or no names, it’s pretty clear who the subject is); however, I also believe that the wife breaking into her husband’s password-protected Facebook account is symptomatic of larger trust issues within their marriage. Perhaps, husband and wife should seek counseling from a professional to discuss setting appropriate boundaries with co-workers, friends, and others for the sake of their union.

In the meantime, I second the comments urging the letter writer to polish her resume and find another work place. She might also begin creating a strategy to explain how vital she is to her current employer, but also why it is in everyone’s best interest for her to leave. It’s complicated and will take some finesse; so I would sincerely recommend the letter writer to visit http://www.askamanager.org and look at many of the resources posted on the website.

The bottom line in my opinion is that everyone– letter writer, husband, and wife– must find ways to defuse and eventually extricate themselves from this tense situation. And afterward, this entire fiasco must be viewed as a learning experience to be avoided in future.

Reply

evil hr lady January 15, 2012 at 9:22 pm

There is plenty of blame to go around, and if the boss or the wife wrote in, I would have told them what to do.

But I just want to say that it’s entirely possible that the wife didn’t “hack” into a facebook account. I know my husband’s password and he knows mine. If we’re using each others computers–which happens from time to time–we can end up in each others accounts without any whooping going on.

Imho, you should always assume someone’s spouse knows everything on that person’s fb account.

Reply

evil hr lady January 15, 2012 at 9:25 pm

That would be “snooping” not whooping. I’m writing this on my kindle fire and can’t seem to hit the right keys.

Reply

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: