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I noticed a non-public textual content about my intern having intercourse on her desk — Ask a Supervisor


A reader writes:

I’ve a query about one thing that occurred to me earlier in my profession and what I ought to have executed.

I labored in a really small workplace: the manager director, myself, and an intern (who I managed). Usually folks can be within the workplace alone if others have been out at conferences or off.

I had gone over to my intern’s desk to assist her with a job on her pc, so I used to be standing over her desk trying down. Her telephone was open to a textual content message thread and my eyes naturally went to it and sadly learn a textual content to her boyfriend. Basically the textual content mentioned how thrilling it was to … have relations together with her … on her desk yesterday. She was the one one who had been within the workplace that day.

I didn’t know what to do on the time, because it felt incorrect to have seen the textual content message, but in addition it clearly wasn’t an amazing factor to do at work. I ended up not saying something and simply pretending I by no means noticed it. I feel I’ll have felt otherwise if she had been an worker who can be presumably sticking round for awhile.

What ought to I’ve executed?

There’s nothing worse than info we want we didn’t have!

Your response was tremendous.

First, you solely knew about it since you noticed a non-public textual content message that you just shouldn’t have seen. It might be totally different when you had walked in on them, or your intern informed you about it, or the boyfriend had by accident despatched the message to you — through which case you’d have to reply. However none of that occurred; you simply noticed a non-public textual content message. For all we all know, this carnal act didn’t even occur — perhaps they’ve an elaborate fantasy life. You can plausibly simply write it off to a non-public trade that you just have been by no means meant to see and due to this fact don’t have to behave on. (Clearly I’m factoring within the degree of hurt right here. In case you’d seen a non-public textual content message plotting to burgle the constructing or kidnap your boss or one thing, my recommendation can be totally different.)

Nevertheless, it’s additionally affordable to make use of it as background details about your intern’s judgment and professionalism. For instance, if I noticed that message, I’d take into consideration whether or not the intern may very well be trusted to work within the workplace alone … and whether or not there have been safety ramifications to her letting her boyfriend in when nobody else was round (in some workplaces that wouldn’t be a giant deal and in others it will matter very a lot). I’d additionally take into consideration whether or not it was shocking or not; if it was a part of a sample of unhealthy judgment, it will immediate me to handle the general sample extra aggressively (even when not this particularly).

That’s to not say you couldn’t have addressed it together with her instantly, although. Simply since you noticed one thing you weren’t alleged to see doesn’t imply it’s off-limits to handle. It might be totally different when you’d deliberately gone snooping via her telephone, however it was proper there once you have been at her desk for work-related causes. So in principle you could possibly have mentioned, “That is awkward, however sadly a message got here up in your telephone once I was at your desk and I couldn’t assist seeing it. I wish to be actually clear that you could possibly be fired for what it says occurred — you may’t use the workplace area that approach and you could understand it’s not non-public. Somebody might have walked in unexpectedly and been a non-consenting witness to one thing nobody must be uncovered to at work. I assume that facet of it wasn’t in your thoughts, so I must be sure to perceive it’s a giant deal.” In case you did select to handle it, I don’t suppose you’d must say greater than that. She’d be extremely prone to be mortified, and the message acquired.

However assuming the intern in any other case appeared moderately accountable and this wasn’t incident 32 in a parade of issues, I feel selecting to fake you hadn’t seemed down within the second and didn’t see what you noticed was fairly comprehensible too.

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