A reader writes:
Two weeks ago, my boss sent an email to our corporate office saying that he had a family emergency and he would be out for a few days. After a week, everyone who works with him started to really get worried about him. Seriously, this man is a workaholic. Some of us who are closer to him than others (those who hang with him outside of work) were calling his cell phone and subsequently his family to make sure he was ok. After the family was cryptic about what was going on, we all started wondering what happened and thinking the worst case scenarios, as anyone does when they worry about a friend.
After some online searching by me and another employee, we found that he has been arrested for child pornography. We both feel betrayed and disgusted by this man. He has met our kids. I have no idea whether his bosses know the full story or if they even care. They talked to him mainly by phone and email, while we saw him regularly and have gone to dinner with him.
The two of us who know the truth worry that it may become a local media story covered by the newspaper or TV once the trial starts. We wouldn’t want to find out that way. Personally, I was worrying about him and if someone else found this out, I would want to know so I could stop worrying.
Should we tell his bosses what we found and/or tell the rest of our team? Also, if the media starts covering the story and mentions where he was employed, shouldn’t we all be aware of this before the rest of the public, since we deal with customers 10-30 times per day? Please help!
Talk to his boss — who’s presumably your management contact now that your manager is incommunicado anyway, right?
You should talk to his boss for a few different reasons:
1. You need to discuss logistics. What’s the plan for the management of your department while this is going on? The last official thing you heard was that he’d be out for a few days, and that was two weeks ago. Someone needs to step in and give you a longer-term plan for what’s going on.
2. You’re right that this type of event has potential public relations implications for the company, and at the very least, they shouldn’t be blindsided by it.
3. This type of thing isn’t value-neutral; it’s going to be upsetting to people who hear about, particular people who work for him. Frankly, that’s true of any arrest, but it’s far more true with an arrest for something like this. The company needs to know what’s going on, decide how to handle it, and communicate that to employees. People shouldn’t be left to discover it for themselves randomly, and then be left to wonder whether the company even knows about.
So yes, talk with his manager. And do that before you discuss it with the rest of your team, since it will reflect better on you if you allow the company the chance to handle this first.