WorkWise Q&A: I was fired for having a relationship with a subordinate. How do I explain?

culp@workwise.netNovember 25, 2012 

CAUGHT

Q: Dear Dr. Culp, I was fired in my last job for being caught in a compromising position with a subordinate. The company pointed out to me that the policies and procedures manual expressly states that this type of behavior is prohibited. My boss told me that I should have offered to resign or that one of us should have found a job elsewhere.

I think this is youth discrimination. Now I’m stuck having to explain to potential employers why I’m not working. What should I say?

Risque

A: Dear Risque, You seem to misunderstand the nature of the policy. Your subordinate could have claimed sexual harassment and sued both the company and you. That might seem impossible to you at this point in your relationship, but the two of you entered the danger zone. That zone doesn’t discriminate by age.

Make your response simple and truthful, minus details of any kind. Tell employers that you broke a company policy. Ask for a copy of the policies and procedures manual to read and digest. Then, if you don’t understand the reason behind a particular policy, ask about it. An explanation you can’t accept points you to the door.

mlc

EXCEPTION

Q: Dear Dr. Culp, Hurricane Sandy hit our area hard. Having no electricity was the least of our problems. Many businesses were damaged and lots of us who had jobs don’t now.

I’d been thinking about the possibility of relocating, because I was about to go on the market for a better job. What do you suggest? I’m worried about how to handle the fact that I don’t have a job any more.

Stranded

A: Dear Stranded, What better than a hurricane to put you over the top??? The best places for jobs right now, particularly if you’re rugged, are North and South Dakota. You’ll practically be hired before you arrive.

Assess whether you could handle the weather, ruggedness and isolation all year long. No? Identify industries suited to your background and scour them across the country. Isolation is a state of mind, thanks to the Internet, as long as you can get out of physical isolation on a regular basis.

Sandy has been in the news so much that employers will understand your unemployment. Normally, reasons for not working don’t appear on resumes. Natural disasters break that rule, break the ice and elicit sympathy.

mlc

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