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Should I tell my ex-colleague that her ex-boss told me her secret?

(11 Posts)
Caligula Thu 02-Jun-05 07:14:05

A couple of years ago, I was responsible for employing somebody and taking up her references, initially by phone and later by letter.

I spoke to her last boss on the phone and he told me something I don't think he should have: that she had been in a relationship where she had been beaten up, but was now stable and happy.

I was very startled that he divulged this info to me, as I didn't feel it had any relevance whatsoever to her fitness for the job and I felt quite uncomfortable that I knew something so intimate about her that she presumably wanted to move on from and that was frankly none of my business.

Now she's changing jobs again and has e-mailed me asking for a reference and she is going to ask him for one. My dilemma is, do I tell her that he told me about her previous relationship? For me, it didn't affect my decision at all - but somebody else might have some kind of peculiar hang-up about it and I suppose it could affect whether she gets a job or not. OTOH, maybe as it's now so long ago, her previous boss wouldn't mention it to another person and I should let sleeping dogs lie and not upset her.

What would you do?

PinkFluffPudding Thu 02-Jun-05 07:51:01

What a difficult situation. I think if i were going for a job i really wanted i would appreciate being told. It would be such a shame if her next employer does not have the same open-minded attitude as you.

Having said that, that is my gut reaction, if i change my mind later after thinking about it more I'll let you know!

lucy5 Thu 02-Jun-05 07:59:58

I agree my gut reaction is tell her but it really is a difficult one.

flobbleflobble Thu 02-Jun-05 08:10:25

I would stay silent - as I can't see why this information would prejudice an employer. It's not as though she was doing the beating, after all.

suzywong Thu 02-Jun-05 08:13:06

I would say tell her, her next employer may not be as, what word to I mean, as non judgmental about her as you are. She has a right to choose whether or not take the risk that personal information of that kind may be passed on yet again.

Copper Thu 02-Jun-05 08:37:07

I wouldn't tell her. From her point of view she doesn't know that you know, and has built up her character at work on that assumption - it might rally upset her to know that you knew all along. Also, there is no guarantee that this previous boss would even mention it

throckenholt Thu 02-Jun-05 08:39:22

I wouldn't tell her.

If she gets the new job then her employer is more likely to take more notice of your reference than a previous employer, since you have worked with her more recently.

Caligula Thu 02-Jun-05 08:47:37

The problem with that Throckenholt, is that I only worked with her for about four or five months - it was a temporary contract for me and one of the reasons I didn't tell her at the time, was because I knew we wouldn't be working together for very long.

TBH I think she's more likely to ask her ex-boss for a ref than me, as she worked with him for about six years - she only asked me if she could put me down as an extra referee in principle, IYSWIM, and of course I said yes, but I suspect an employer would rather have a reference from someone who worked with her longer.

SenoraPostrophe Thu 02-Jun-05 09:18:41

No I would tell her. Lots of people have prejudices about woemn who have been in abusive relationships (eg. they must be weak, or even that they must have asked for it).

You don't have to be specific though - you can just say he said things he shouldn't have said and that if she can possibly find another reference perhaps she should?

throckenholt Thu 02-Jun-05 09:20:51

in that case I guess you should tell her and let her decide. Just say you didn't think it was relevant to your employment of her, and didn't think it appropriate for you to tell her.

Maybe she could contact her previuos employer and ask him specifically not to mention it in references unless he has a very good reason for thinking it may be relevant.

Sponge Thu 02-Jun-05 09:23:35

Do you still have her ex-boss's details? Could you call him, explain the situation, let him know that you thought it strange and unnecessary that he divulged the info at the time and that you think it would be better if he didn't do the same again for the reasons you have described.
I wouldn't tell her as if I were her I would be upset to find out that you'd been told and had kept quiet about it until now.

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