Difficult situation, I was visiting my partner who was in hospital with an appendicitis, when I bumped into a friend who is a social worker who was seeing another woman on the ward who is the wife of someone I work with.

Being friendly and nosey and asking my partner to ask as well, the woman had a spiral fracture on her right arm. That and the fact our friend specifically works on children's protection and domestic violence has led me to a conclusion. I live in a British city of 160k people.

The man in question is an onshore rep for our third party offshore Indian consultancy as he's embedded in the company I work for for a year he brought his family over. I have not said anything, but I'm having difficulties.

I've let my social worker friend know that I know the husband and she's case noted it.

My difficulties are quite complicated, there is the information I have from outside work, there is also the fact that in having to deal with substandard work from our third party supplier, cultural issues, and its difficult.

I'd like to ask my manager to remove me from working with him but my role is specifically to liaise directly with hin, or get his company to remove him but without divulging specific information about what I know.

  • 1
    Is there anything actionable you would like to do or you are thinking about doing? Is there a goal you are trying to achieve?
    – user42272
    Dec 6, 2016 at 1:10
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    My goal is not to feel uncomfortable in the workplace and not do anything that would be detrimental to me.
    – Ourjamie
    Dec 6, 2016 at 1:18
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    By the sound of it, you THINK he is a domestic violence perpetrator, but he's never been convicted, right?
    – Erik
    Dec 6, 2016 at 7:24
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    In the process of being nosey did your push your social worker friend to release privileged information? If so you have just created a problem.
    – Peter M
    Dec 6, 2016 at 15:57
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    Do they have laws regarding disclosure of this information in the UK? Here in the US, I think someone would have violated HIPAA laws. Dec 6, 2016 at 16:38

3 Answers 3


It is far too late to do anything about feeling uncomfortable in the workplace. You have encouraged your friend the social worker to gossip about her client, and you have also used your partner to pry into the case. As a result, you have become privy to information that makes you suspicious about the onshore rep. Furthermore, you think you have facts in hand which have led you to a conclusion.

Now the problem is -- your problem is -- that the information is none of your business and you are not qualified to reach any conclusion.

(Of course, sometimes it is necessary to violate another person's privacy, as in a circumstance where ignoring abuse or a crime will allow it to continue unremarked and unexposed. But here, a social worker is already on the case. Your investigation is not needed and not appropriate.)

Were you able to find out all the details of the case? Do you know that domestic violence has occurred? If there was violence, do you know who battered whom? You may have become aware of another family's shameful secret, or your assumptions may be completely wrong, or there may be no shameful secret there.

The only shameful secret that you can be sure of is your own: you have nosed into the private family affairs of the onshore rep, with no intention to befriend nor ability to help.

If you want to avoid doing anything that would be detrimental to you, my sincere advice is to keep all the secrets you know... secret. Never reveal, by word or attitude, to anyone in your workplace, that you know anything about, or were ever interested in, the onshore rep's family situation.

The one thing that you need the most right now is boundaries. Your company is counting on you to liaise directly with him, and you can do this only if you keep your wife-beating suspicions, the onshore rep's cultural differences, and the supplier's quality issues all separate.

In short, do your job and keep mum about everything else.

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    And what if his wife were injured by some other family member? Just when the husband wants to concentrate on comforting his wife and protecting her from X, he gets hit with trouble at work. That is assuming the fracture was not accidental - the social worker may have needed to talk to her about something other than her injury. Dec 6, 2016 at 7:53
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    And perhaps someone noticed your husband was in the hospital and you were talking to a social worker who specializes in domestic abuse. Might that person, not knowing he has appendicitis, decide that you were potentially an abuser? That is how sketchy the assumption you have made is about your coworker.
    – HLGEM
    Dec 6, 2016 at 19:01

Her arm may have been broken by a neighbor, her boyfriend, a stranger who assaulted her on public transit, or in a genuine accident. The social worker could have been checking to see if her "story" held up and may have concluded her husband didn't assault her. All you really know about this man is that his wife needed medical assistance and social workers are now investigating his private life. I would silently extend him some pity and save my "I can't sit next to him" for when it's clearer what has happened (which may never happen.) I don't stick up for abusers, but you've put 2 and 2 together and got 7.

If you think the wife recognized you, you could mention something sympathetically about "both having partners in the hospital this weekend" and see if he wants to talk about it. If you think she didn't, say nothing. Meanwhile be 100% by-the-book as you do your job of liasing. Don't let the substandard work go by because he's having a tough time personally or because you are afraid to challenge him. Do you what you would do if you had never learned about his wife. It will doubtless be difficult. Whether he creeps you out as a vicious arm-breaker, or whether you feel sorry for him and the difficulties his family may now face, setting your personal feelings aside will be a challenge. Rise to it. Do what your company needs around the contractors, and do it well.

The moment you feel threatened, go to your boss and ask to have him removed. But that moment may never come.


You are asking the unreasonable.

Note that the that the situation is more complex than you are bargaining for. He might be a domestic violence perp but his family relies on his paycheck. If you cause him to lose his job, his family may be out of their only source of income. I say, let the social agencies and the law deal with him, and butt out of it - He's got plenty to lose starting with his immigration status if he does not comply with the law and fails to cooperate with the social work agencies. Aside from that, if you try to do anything about what you surmise is the perp, you are doing it on the basis of incomplete information. Acting on incomplete information shouldn't bother you if you are a vigilante. In this case, the info you have is not merely incomplete, it is sketchy.

Substandard work from the offshore contractor is another issue altogether and it should be dealt at the appropriate management level if it is not already. That appropriate management level is not yours. Your job is to liaise and escalate to your management if you are encountering difficulties in liaising that you can't resolve at your level. Not more, not less.

You contributed what you know to the social worker and that should be the extent of your involvement unless you know more about the situation. Which you don't.

You don't have to solve the world's problems, especially if others are better equipped to do it than you and they are already on the job.

I recommend that you stick to the business of your firm and that you keep your interaction with him strictly business. If you want him removed as his company's liaison to your company, you will have to supply a rationale based on his failure to liaise with you.

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