Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Reader Questions Whether to Stick up for Boss

DEAR HARRIETTE: My boss, “Sara,” isn’t the most well-liked person at my company. Sara leaves her packages lying around, is very brash and rarely cleans up after herself. Other employees make snarky comments about her behind her back when she is not at work. There’s no way to deny that she is all of the previously stated things (she has asked someone if they are pregnant or just “got fat”).

Should I defend Sara when I hear these statements? I don’t want to ostracize myself, but I feel like I should stick up for my boss no matter what. -- Employee of the Century, Wichita, Kansas

DEAR EMPLOYEE OF THE CENTURY: Watch what you say. You should not defend inappropriate behavior, no matter whose behavior it is. To protect your boss, it would be better for you to speak to her privately and express your concern that when she makes comments about people’s body size and condition, it is hurtful and embarrassing, but more, it could put your boss in a compromised position. An employee could accuse her of being discriminatory or worse.

What you can say when people talk about your boss is that you think it’s smart for everyone to focus on work. Griping about the boss on the job is not productive.

Read more in: Work & School | Etiquette & Ethics