Eavesdropping on the Boss: Is it “Cause” to Fire Me?

Question: I was put on suspension for sharing information I learned when playfully eavesdropping on my boss. Then I was called at home and terminated. I was told my actions, and the actions of another employee who I shared the information with, did not meet the required level of integrity of the company. At the same time, one employee who is still there goes to strip clubs. Was my firing a “wrongful termination?”

S.A.M., Houston, TX

Answer: Sorry, but on this issue I have to agree with your employer. Eavesdropping on your boss, even if it’s playful, is not something most any employer would tolerate. If people think their telephone conversations are being listened to, they may be reluctant to use them. If people think their conversations may be repeated, they may not speak openly. And taking precious time at work to do things like this just don’t help anyone. Additionally, the fact that someone else does things that are not proper (either on their own time or on company time) does not in any way excuse or justify your errors. Your conduct would be considered “cause” for firing at almost any employer. My best advice: learn from the mistake. Work is for working; eavesdropping isn’t working, and will get you fired. It’s that simple.

Best, Al Sklover

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