My boss has cuckolded me. Should I resign?

My wife, who works at the same company as me, has for some months been conducting an illicit affair with our chief executive. She has decided to leave me and to resign her position in order to move in with him.

The affair, which has now been made very public, seems to have done no damage to him but has devastated me. I now find myself having to work directly for the man who has cuckolded me – which is intolerable to my pride.

However, I don’t see why I should resign from a job in which I had been excelling, when I am the only person to have behaved professionally throughout. What should I do?

HR director, male, 50

LUCY’S ANSWER

The first thing to do is get a good lawyer. Even if the affair did not break your company’s policy on relationships, and even if you have not been discriminated against, a skilful lawyer may be able to argue that your employer has breached its legal duty of trust and confidence.

Although the most you would get from a UK industrial tribunal would be £70,000, your company would almost certainly agree a much larger private settlement in order to avoid the damage to its reputation of having the squalid details of who did what to whom spread all over the papers.

If, however, the main harm done has been to your pride, it might be wiser to stick around. Simply by staying, you extract a revenge of sorts: for so long as you are still in the company, your CEO is not going to be able to forget the embarrassing incident. You will also be someone it becomes rather difficult to pass over for promotion.

If you manage to hold your head high, your colleagues may quickly stop pitying you – pity being the most horrid thing to be at the receiving end of at work – and in time respect and like you more for it.

The chief executive’s standing with your colleagues will almost certainly be damaged by this, and you may benefit from the fallout.

Either way, the rumpus will die down in time. The appetite for scandal in the average office is prodigious, but the scandal needs to be fresh to merit continued discussion. You will only be talked about as the-man-cuckolded-by-the-CEO until the next big scandal breaks – which will probably be quite soon.

And if you stay you may well have the satisfaction of seeing this new relationship fall apart. As the late Sir James Goldsmith said: “When a man marries his mistress, he creates a job opportunity.”

Dear Lucy

This blog is no longer updated but it remains open as an archive.

Lucy Kellaway, FT columnist and associate editor, offers her solution to your workplace problems in a fortnightly column in the Financial Times. In this weekly online edition of her 'agony aunt' column, readers are invited to have a say too. Read more about Dear Lucy here.

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