Adultery and the Workplace
Recent news stories are raising the old question of whether or not a person's marital infidelity has any impact on his or her ability to perform a job.
The answer, of course, is it might. Or it might not.
Some argue that it always does. I recall one executive whose position is: "If a man will lie to his wife, he'll lie to me." I can understand the suspicion, but have known people who might well deceive a spouse but would never deceive an employer. They take their job much more seriously than they take their marriage.
President Kennedy was hardly an emblem of fidelity but there is no evidence that his affairs affected his performance as president. [One counter-argument is that the dalliances could have made him vulnerable to blackmail. That, of course, would depend upon his willingness to be blackmailed.]
There are times when the conduct of the affair raises serious questions about the person's judgment. What could have been a private matter between Governor Sanford and his wife has been exacerbated by the Governor's weird and amateurish behavior shortly before and during his ill-advised press conference. The fact that he is clearly under enormous stress may say good things about him as a person but it does not signal that he can function effectively at this time.
In the days of the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal, observers tried to determine whether the conduct was personal or professional. There are times when an affair is both. The question then becomes the extent of its impact. The ideal scenario is when the sad sorting out process can be left solely to the marital partners.