Privacy/Supervisor issue. What should I do?

Several months ago a co-worker asked me, in all sincerity, whether I needed to work. I literally laughed in her face. Now, my co-workers apparently think because I have no credit card debt and could pay for makor card repairs out of pocket, I’m independantly wealthy (I’m not. I’m just frugal). Or so I thought. I found out yesterday that a former supervisor has spread the rumor around that I don’t have to work for a living, that I’m rich.

Now this isn’t true. At all. At first I thought it was funny my co-workers were so mistaken, but now I’m mad that someone in a position of authority has not only been talking about my personal finances, she’s been lying (or mistaken) about them, and spreading those lies. If I’d been having garnishments, would she tell everyone about that?

What can I do about this? People already think I’m cheap because I don’t drive a new car and I don’t spend outside my means. I guess I shouldn’t care if they think I’m some sort of tightwad because I’m not throwing money around, but I don’t want to appear to be a miser.


Well, if it isn’t true, then technically it’s not a privacy issue…

There’s nothing you can do to stop a rumor. Sorry.

Since this is on the job, I suggest having a long talk with HR.

Which will do nothing, unless they talk to her co-workers about it, in which case she’ll get a rep for complaining.

I don;t understand why dudes think HR is on your side. *It’s not.

Sure, the OP could say to them what he (she?) already did. Assuming that this is not a huge place of employment, that is.

I’d talk to the supervisor directly, too. “Why are you spreading false rumors about my finances?” might just put an end to it.

Well, that’s not strictly true. Assuming the OP can correctly identify the source of the rumor, she can file a complaint that the rumor has resulted in an intimidating workplace atmosphere, etc.

That said, it doesn’t sound like it’s intimidating, per se. More annoying.

Personally, I would have fun with it. Feed the rumor. Why not?

I understand what your’re going through. My ex had all his friends thinking that he was very wealthy. thus when I was disabled during my pregnancy, a mutual “friend” at work made it known that I didn’t really need assistance. (I really did.) while this shouldn’t have affected how my benefits were treated, it did, and most of what I was entitled to just “slipped through the cracks.”

This really can have effects that you can’t forsee, and you should make it clear to the lady who brought it up, and to the boss who spread the rumour, that while the specifics are not their business, they are much mistaken.

I suggest having a talk with your manager and explain that the rumor is not true and not good for productivity in the office. Just be polite but firm that you want your manager to take action to stop it.

That’s really about all you can do, but sometimes you’d be surprised how much good being the assertive grown up can do for a bunch of people who aren’t acting like adults.

No, this isn’t something for HR. HR’s job is to advise management. Managers’ jobs include making sure their employees play nice enough not to detract from productivity. Assuming we’re in the US, I don’t see any indication that this is based on a legally protected class (race, sex, etc.). Teasing someone for being rich or poor, frugal or spendthrift, is not a legal issue. It’s possible that a company has a more generous policy about creating a generally supportive workplace atmosphere, in which case the persons starting and spreading the rumor could be violating that policy. Your manager can talk to the offenders’ managers to get that addressed.

ETA: The above assumes you have already told the people directly you want the rumor to stop. It would be better to do that before dragging your manager into it. If this former supervisor still has enough authority that they’re more a peer to your manager than to you, then it’s a little more understandable if you won’t confront them. Still, asserting yourself is usually the best course.

I’m still a lowly peon, she’s still a manager. Just not my manager, now. She was put on another team a while back. I’ve told my supervisor (she’s the one who told me the old supervisor had started this) that it’s not true, and that even if it was, it’s not something that should be brought up with other employees. My current supervisor is also ticked off because the other supervisor asks me to do special things, coming up with excel formulas, access work, and then takes credit for it.


Unfortunately, what you want is for people not to discuss your finances. Telling people that the rumor isn’t true is discussing your finances.

I honestly don’t think there is much HR can or should do unless it is interfering with productivity.

If the rumor gets back to you, and you shrug your shoulders and say “I don’t want to discuss it”, that means it’s true. Because really rich people never talk about how much they have - that’s so nouveau riche. Or you can just say “I wish” and you are discussing your finances again.

It sucks, but I have never hit on a good way of shutting down the rumor mill.


Yeah, but not for long. Being average is boring. People tend not to discuss boring very much.

This is true, but I’d at least do something to dismiss it – at least as far as your leadership goes. The last thing I’d want is for people to think I don’t need the job; I don’t want to be first on the guilt-free layoff list.

I guess I’d just earnestly laugh if someone mentioned it to me, and probably make some offhanded comments in public (e.g. “Man, I’d really like a PS3 now that slims are $300, but I’m not sure I should buy anything major right now”).

Tell them you’re worth a lot of money on paper but you haven’t seen any returns from your investment in Nigerian oil wells.

I’ve been a manager, and nothing I ever did ever worked.

A co-worker started a rumor about me, that I had gotten into trouble for using a company credit card to pay for hookers on a business trip. And the more everyone, including me, denied it, the worse it got. Even after the person who started it admitted that it wasn’t true, it didn’t stop.

She left the company, and even that didn’t stop it completely.