Episode 23: Listener Question: What do you do if your boss is unethical?


November 5th, 2019

25 mins 19 secs

Your Hosts

About this Episode

We have a letter! This one addresses an issue that happens too often in the workplace: an unethical boss from a friend who signed off as, “My Boss is a Fraud With a Nice Car”. Ugh.

The bottom line for our friend: it’s time for a new job!

People act funny for all sorts of reasons. Sometimes it means something is going on that is not being communicated with the staff. If you sense something shady, do your research and see if it might be a bigger company issue like bankrupcy or acquisition.

If someone is shaming you about performing your job in a diligent or ethical fasion, or if you aren’t free to talk about normal business issue -- this is a huge red flag in terms of long-term fit.

As an aside, sometimes, someone is a bad or unethical boss, but it doesn’t mean you have to leave the company -- because there could be an incredible boss in another division.

You can always go to HR. They are a business partner and an employee advocate there to help you as a sounding board. They also need to investigate when things aren’t ethical.

Before bringing up company issues, make sure your resume is updated. If a company doesn’t see that you’re helping, do you want to be there?

How do you approach these tough discussions? Slowly. Are they turning a blind eye? Do they really not want to go? Ask questions and see how they respond. Give your reasons for coming to them and lay out your case. Be logical with your points written down on notes you bring in. Slow your speech, put your feet on the ground, and see how they are responding to you.

Don’t be the person that creates extra drama. If it’s not clean, get out. Complain to friends, not coworkers.

Work-based facts are the only way to approach taking with someone about something you don’t think is ethical.


What happens when things go right? Hard facts. Company’s best interest in mind. Run your fact-based evidence by someone at the company you trust and see what they think. This is not for when your boss is simply a jerk; this is when you see shady practices or problems within the company.

NO FEELINGS when bringing up unethical or shady business practices.

If you bring up a fact-based issue, HR or upper management has to do an investigation, and you’ve handed it off. If it’s a serious ethical issue and they do nothing, it can tear you apart. Take care of yourself.

Other than an office romance, there's nothing juicier in an office than shady business practices. Trying to stay above the gossip is important, but if you are going to participate, do it with an action plan.

If things aren't right and are not going to be made right, the best thing you can do for your career is exit gracefully. If you don’t have hard evidence, you can drop evidence gracefully in an exit interview saying that things felt shady, but the evidence wasn’t hard enough.

Hello kind listener. If you've made it this far in the show notes, come on the show for some spot coaching. We’d love to discuss live!