• What do I do if my boss is having an affair with a colleague?

    My boss just put me on warning for coming in late all the time. She said I come in half an hour later than everyone else — which is true — but I’ve been doing it for six months and she never said anything before, yet now she is threatening my job. Can I be fired for that?

    The short answer is that New York is an employment at-will state — like most states — and you can be fired for any reason or no reason at all. You can’t be fired for a protected reason, such as age, race, gender, etc. That being said, there seems to be more to this situation because even though you can be fired, it seems harsh to threaten to fire you for coming in 30 minutes late if your boss has never told you what time you need to be in or complained about your tardiness before. If she’s been allowing you to come in at a certain time every day, you’d have every reason to believe that schedule is permissable. Regardless, your boss does have the right to determine your schedule. So, if this truly is the only issue and it hasn’t come up before, then the easy remedy is to start coming in at the new time.

    If my boss is having an affair with my colleague, can I file a legal claim? They aren’t even particularly discreet about it. It makes me very uncomfortable.

    Well, maybe, even though you aren’t involved in the alleged little tryst. If, in fact, they are carrying on in that way, and it is known, it raises all kinds of questions about judgment, objectivity and what it takes to succeed in that workplace, all of which can give rise to a claim of hostile work environment for the other colleagues who work there. But that is a big claim to make. Unless the indiscretion you describe is tantamount to canoodling in the corner, or them both coming out of an office half undressed, how can a claim prevail, since there is no proof of an affair or that the company knew and did nothing about it? Before you jump to litigation, call HR, legal or the compliance hotline — most companies have one — and raise your concern with the professionals who deal with such matters.

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