My Former Boss is Pretending I Never Quit

Last Updated May 10, 2010 8:00 AM EDT

Almost a year ago I left a job at a small company I had been with for many years. At the time I gave notice, I was instructed that I was not to inform any customers of my departure. I respected that as I don't believe it was my choice to make. My issue: it's recently been brought to my attention by several people that my former boss (the owner of the company) is cc'ing my old email address on communications with customers. I fully appreciate that the email profile bearing my name is owned by the company. I can also understand that they might want to keep it live to monitor the inbox for business-related emails. (Given my long tenure, this is certainly possible, even a year later). However, it would seem to me that the only reason my former boss would cc my address at this juncture would be to misrepresent my current status with the company. This strikes me as ethically questionable at best. I should mention that other employees were also instructed to copy my address, so it's not just a matter of it being habitual. I would appreciate your thoughts as to whether this is common practice and whether I have any rights in terms of telling him to knock it off. Am I justified in being uncomfortable that someone is pretending I'm somewhere I'm not? I have to say, this is one of the strangest questions I have ever received. I, personally, am very creeped out by your boss. I understand not wanting you to send out e-mails to all the clients saying, "Thank you for working with me for all these years. It's sad to say goodbye, but I'm leaving for a competitor." But copying your old e-mail address so that the clients think you're still there? Whack-a-licious.

Of course, the clients are wondering why, if you are still there, you never say anything. You never call. You never write. Which makes me wonder if he's also sending out e-mails under your e-mail address. Shudder.

I've never heard of anyone doing this, so I'm going to make a big leap to say that this is not common practice. And I think you have every right to tell him to knock it off. I think you can also make a pretty good threat to him, saying that if he doesn't stop it, you will contact your old clients and inform them you moved on over a year ago. Somehow I think that might get him to stop. Although, since it's been a year and you haven't, of course, spoken to any of these clients, they may already know you are gone. If your boss is quirky in other ways, they may be laughing about the cc'ing. Or they may never have paid attention to just who was cc'd.

I'm not a lawyer and I don't give legal advice, so I won't comment on the legality of any of this. Just the weirdness. If he doesn't stop after you ask him to, I see no problem with actually contacting your former clients and explaining the situation. It will definitely be bad for your former boss's business, so I don't think it will come to this. I think he'll stop doing it once you tell him you know about it. I hope.

Or, ask him for payment for using your name. That would be a great solution.

Photo by Ryan Q, Flickr cc 2.0