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Totally Random Business Ethics Question

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
In short, how long do I wait before telling my new employer that one of his most tenured employees is pretty much trying to sabotage the company?

I just started a new job as the Asst Operations Manager at a smallish IT company. The most tenured employee in question has been there for about three or four years (yes, let's ignore the turnover issue for now). For some reason, she feels comfortable telling me that she has a sexual relationship with a former employee who recently left to start his own business (as a competitor of ours) and is poaching our current clients (in total violation of our employment contracts). She also feels comfortable telling me that she is constantly reminding our three biggest clients (in this particular business, their contracts make up a huge chunk of our regular cash flow) of when their contracts end, that they can get the same service with her boyfriend (who was around long enough to establish a pretty decent relationship with them, as he was their on-site contact, for the most part), and that he has his own business now.

I have, literally, three days on the job. I am uncomfortable with this on a lot of levels, the least of which is my continued job security. The business owner (I report to him and the Operations Manager, exclusively) is umm...a bit "interesting", so I really have no idea how he would react to the news from me. The Operations Manager is a really stand-up guy who seems like he would be very reasonable and appropriate about anything tossed his way.

I was already disturbed by her revelations, but things I have heard from other employees about our clients' fondness of/relationship with the former employee (now competitor) have given it even more weight.

I know I can't sit on this forever, but I am really confused about how long I should/could wait before going to either the Operations Manager or the owner. Obviously, one or two (or three) days' worth of random chit-chat seems a little soon, but I don't want to wait too long, either. My real issue is being so new. If I had any sort of time on the job, I wouldn't be so conflicted about this.

Just to be even more longwinded, I'm not relying solely on TheCatSite.com to guide me through these ethical issues, but most of my professional forums (and many other resources) make it very obvious who I am, so I don't want to be tossing these things out all over the place. Everyone, so far, seems to agree I can't just ignore these things, but there are some pretty varying ideas about when I should approach senior management about them. As many of my other resources are off-limits, I figured I'd bug you guys.

I've known plenty of disgruntled employees before, but this is the first time I've dealt with one who really might actually be able to significantly impact the business.
post #2 of 14
It's hard not to ignore the turnover issue as that seems to be related to some of the other problems.

I think you know part of the answer - you having been there for less than a week puts you at a disadvantage as far as blowing the whistle.

Assuming the owner knew about this, he would fire her and escort her out the door immediately and have her things in a box on the doorstep within an hour. If you have any doubt about that, then don't bother. If the owner is the type of guy to allow his business to be harmed in this way, all of your efforts will be wasted. You could end up being the one getting fired and this gal could continue her merry way.

I would not approach anyone without some kind of objective proof. If she is comfrotable talking to you about this stuff then I'd find a way to record it. Wear a mike. Have your phone on speaker. Anything.

If the OM is a reasonable guy then he knows something is off and would probably be grateful if you were to approach him. If you do that then I would say what you've said here, you are uncertain about taking action since you're so new bla bla. I would not name any names though. Just say that a senior employe has confided (bragged ) to you about poaching customers and that you as a new hire are in a conflict as to wanting to do right by your new employer, wanting to maintain a good relationship with the staff, and not getting in the middle of any quarrels. If the guy is as reasonable as you say he will give you guidance. If he is NOT, then frankly the place needs to be cleaned out anyway and you might want to consider dusting off your resume.

Good luck!
post #3 of 14
Try to gather evidence that this is occurring, and then make an appointment to see your boss. Tell him it would be best if Human Resources attended. Present your evidence in a calm clear manner. I know this is hard, but try not to get emotionally involved in the process.
post #4 of 14
You live in a one-party state (VA), which makes it LEGAL for you to be the one-party to a conversation AND record it. Please, if you have any intention of blowing the whistle, find a way to wear a wire or another way to covertly record the conversations. This will not only cover your rear-end, but show your loyalty to the company.

This is a sticky situation, and I don't envy you for it. Just be careful, and hopefully the truth will win.

Good luck!!!
post #5 of 14
I think it is a plot.
post #6 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by ckblv View Post
I think it is a plot.
Maybe they are testing the old adage, " a dog that will fetch a bone will carry a bone", but maybe not - I've seen some very cocky people in the office workplace who get away with too much for so long, they forget to be careful.
Another thought - she might be trying to court you for her BF's new company
At any rate, maybe you could get a digital voice-activated recorder and get valid evidence to submit to your OM..
post #7 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by ckblv View Post
I think it is a plot.
Do you care to elaborate, Cindy? Do you also think that this might be a case of "too much, too soon," and therefore a possible test of a new employee?
post #8 of 14
Absolutely tell. If you tell the boss and he reacts negatively towards you, there is no reason on earth you'd want to stay with that company anyway.
post #9 of 14
Thread Starter 
Lol @ the testing idea. I already thought of that. I decided that I don't want to work for a bunch of loons if that turns out to be the case.

As for the resume, it's pretty fresh (just got this job), and the place I was temping at would love to have me back permanently in another similar position, so I'm not too terribly worried about losing this one, if it comes to that.
post #10 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zissou'sMom View Post
Absolutely tell. If you tell the boss and he reacts negatively towards you, there is no reason on earth you'd want to stay with that company anyway.
100% in agreement with that advice. If you can get documentary evidence that's 100% incriminating then I'd say your obliged not only by business ethics but also by your personal code, and maybe even by the law, if laws were broken, to present the evidence. But rather than going to the boss with an accusatory stance saying so and so has done so and so, go to him and present the evidence and say something like, I'm not comfortable with what I'm finding here, what do you make of it? If he waffles, then he's either in or it or doesn't care or incompetent, and in none of those cases do you want to stay there, anyway.
post #11 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by jcat View Post
Do you care to elaborate, Cindy? Do you also think that this might be a case of "too much, too soon," and therefore a possible test of a new employee?
Yep, that is exactly what I think.
post #12 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by boringjen View Post
Lol @ the testing idea. I already thought of that. I decided that I don't want to work for a bunch of loons if that turns out to be the case.
The "test" was my first thought also. It's just strange that you work there for 3 days, and this girl is telling you all this. It almost does sound like a test. And, I agree, if it is...they are loons! I think talking to the OM is better than talking to the actual boss first. Chain of command and all that. Just mention it to him and get a feel of his reaction. If she's this open with you after 3 days, I'm sure (if it's true) she's open with other people. I also could just be her pipe dream and she's just telling people that.

Wow...I don't envy you your position. But at least you have another job to fall back on.
post #13 of 14
Thread Starter 
As I'd hoped, they were already aware of what's going on. For some reason, they're keeping her around. For now. No one seems to think she's as much of a threat as she thinks she is, so I get that part. Unfortunately, due to the high turnover, she really does know a lot of office functions no one else seems to know. That will change very quickly, as I was hired to get together policies and procedures in an electronic manual. Knowledge retention is impossible in the current environment. Her attendance issues, personal dealings, and shoddy work will get her canned soon enough. For now, I just ignore her when she starts rambling about her nonsense.
post #14 of 14
Well, if she acts as crazy to all the clients as she does to you, then it's no surprise they aren't too worried about her poaching them.

Glad it's all worked out okay-- I'm sure you won't have to deal with her very long
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