Workplace ethics: When to tell a friend she’s being fired

Loyalty to a boss and a friend can cause a painful conflict. Photo: Friendships can be severely tested by the workplace Photo: greyerbaby

SALT LAKE CITY, June 7, 2013 —Write the Ask Angela Column by sending an email to or through the Ask Angela Facebook page.

Dear Angela,

I work with a good friend of mine and I just found out from my boss that my friend is getting fired next week. My boss and I are good friends so she usually keeps me up to date on office goings on, but now I feel kind of bad about my friend. My boss said the info needed to stay between the two of us, but I feel like that’s disloyal. Should I warn my friend?

Sincerely, FriendofFiredgirl

Dear FriendofFiredgirl,

First, tsk, tsk, tsk to your boss. It’s great to have that type of relationship but sharing confidential personnel information like that is immature and unprofessional.

As hard as it may be, keep this information to yourself. Most likely the firing is imminent and no amount of warning will change that. Also you were told that the news of the firing was confidential and just because your boss can’t be trusted with sensitive information doesn’t mean you should follow suit.

There’s also the fact that maybe your friend won’t be fired after all and saying something will just cause more office conflict or make the work place uncomfortable for her. And lastly, breaking your boss’ confidence could put your own job in jeopardy. It may feel selfish to need to consider that aspect of all of this, but it’s reality.

If you feel disloyal just sitting on your hands, find ways to encourage your friend to do better work. Look for simple ways to make her look good and maybe her managers will change their minds. Speak kindly about her when she’s not around and do your best to be an example of a good employee.

Even though you two are friends, stay out of this one.

Readers: If you were about to be fired, would you want to know? If you had a friend who was going to be fired, would you tell him or her?

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Angela Trusty

Angela Trusty brings her great life observations and advice Communities.  Angela also authors   ‘Ask Angela’ which also appears bi-monthly in the Deseret News. She is a graduate of Dartmouth College and the lucky sibling of 5 sisters and 1 brother.

She currently lives in Salt Lake City, Utah, but Baltimore will always be her home. 


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