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Favoritism Fairness Ethics Romance Promotions

Our boss keeps promoting his girlfriend even though she does less work than the other employees in the department. What's worse, we work in city government, where this sort of thing isn't supposed to happen. What can we do?

Promoting people strictly because they are girlfriends or boyfriends is not supposed to happen in any organization, whether a governmental agency or a car agency. It is nice to think that city government is somehow insulated from such behavior, but it is not -- in spite of the potential damage, disruption, and liability.

You and your fellow employees should first meet with your boss and tell him that you sense some inequities in the promotion process, and add that you are confused over the criteria that are being used to determine promotions. He will most likely defend his promotion decisions, and you should be willing to listen.

At the same time, you should emphasize your qualifications for some of the positions that have been filled, ask him about forthcoming advancement opportunities, and let him know that you would like to be considered for them. The meeting should conclude with all parties agreeing that merit, equity, and experience are the key factors that will determine promotions. The next step is to see if he acts like a boyfriend or a manager.

If he shows any kind of favoritism toward his girlfriend, you should contact his manager or the human resources department. Your boss is going to find that giving his girlfriend favorable treatment is not regarded favorably by management.

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