I am the payroll director/manager for a small accounting firm. I have roughly 10 individuals who directly report to me.
Yesterday, two coworkers and I went to lunch which turned out to last roughly 1 hr 30 mins. Our typical lunch is 45 mins. This is out of the norm and a rarity.
Upon returning, the owner emailed me letting me know that he was getting a lot of flack/anger from two individuals in my department about taking my assistant to lunch with me for extended periods of time.
He noted that there was no problem with me doing so; however, said it is not a great idea to take said individual with me again and that they should get lunch on their own or come back within a reasonable time (45 mins - which has been the case for years).
Also, I was told that an "apology to them would go a long way towards cooling things down." I should apologize to these two who went over my head to the owner when I did nothing wrong? Conflict avoidance and negative attitudes riddle the two who did go to the owner. At this point, I view what they did as undermining me and presented blatant lies and false flags to the owner. I never once heard of such an issue before.
I feel let down by the owner due to how he presented we mitigate the issue. I'm all for taking responsibility when I've done wrong but apologizing when I did nothing wrong is unreal. Not to mention, a lot of untrue nonsense was told to him.
How should I approach this with the owner?