Question for Ask the Workplace Doctors about being stalked by a jealous wife:
“My boss’s wife is jealous of me and I think she is stalking me. What can I do?”
Dear Workplace Doctors,
I am a female electrical engineer working in a research development group. I have two little children and I support my husband who has a medical problem and cannot work full-time. My boss and all of my co-workers are male. I have been at this new job for about 4.5 years. My boss is one of the toughest people I have ever worked for and I have had to complain to his boss and HR about his aggressive anger toward me, in the past. He fights with my other coworkers the same way but he doesn’t seem to be as aggressive toward them as he is to me. I have had miscarriages while I worked there and never even felt I could tell him I was pregnant, because I didn’t want him to know.
One time, when I was pregnant again, I went to HR about his treatment of me, because I didn’t want the stress to have an effect on me. After he found out I was pregnant, he took me to lunch to apologize. I agreed just to keep the peace. Then, a couple of times he gave me a ride home because it was on his way. (My husband usually drops me off and picks me up.)
One day, out of nowhere, his wife followed us on the way going back from lunch. He pulled over to a gas station and she came up to my side and started yelling at him. I first did not know who she was but realized right away because she was talking about him giving me rides without telling her. She seemed relieved when she saw that I was very pregnant.
After that I refused to go to lunch with my boss and he understood. But, one day she called and told me not to go to lunch with him, not to work alone with him and a lot of other things. I didn’t want to be in the middle of an argument so I agreed. Then, I went to him and asked him to ask her to leave me alone or I will have to bring it to his boss. He didn’t want to talk to her and eventually I took it to HR and they told me that sometimes business lunch can;t be avoided but to try to get another person to join if possible.
This worked well for awhile, but then we had to work on an important project and we decided to discuss it during lunch. She must have been following him every day, because she followed us that day. Later she called me and demanded that I go outside our office to talk to her and I refused. I told my coworkers about the situation but didn’t want to make a huge deal out of it.
After I got home, my boss called and said his wife was getting crazy and he wanted me to talk to her, but I refused. Then he called and said he couldn’t stop his wife from coming to my house. She showed up and knocked on my door then banged on my door and jerked the doorknob. I should have called the police, but my boss asked me not to.
I made a request to move to a different group (more like a demotion) but that was not approved by my boss’s boss, because he says I am too good at what I do and they cannot have me leave.
Recently I have been getting odd phone calls, which I think are to find out where I am, especially when he is out of town. I also get calls without anyone talking. I feel I am being stalked by a jealous wife. What can I do?
I think, based on some elements in your message, that you live in a country other than the United States. As a result, I do not know what the laws are about harassment or being staked by a jealous wife or stalked for any other reason. I also do not know how supportive your HR section will be about this issue. But one thing is clear: this has not been handled in the most effective way from the very beginning. Certainly HR and your boss’s boss have not responded appropriately and your boss has made the problem much worse, but you have not been effective about how you have handled it either.
As I read through your long message, which I edited for article length, I could only think that there have been many times when your boss’s wife could have done something violent to you, your family and your workplace–and she still might. She seems mentally deranged. But, you continued to go to lunch with your boss without witnesses and you continued to get a ride home and take personal phone calls from him away from work. I do recognize that you tried to get help at work, and that was certainly the right thing to do, but I don’t see that you ever followed-through on it. That is not blaming you as the victim, that is reminding you that no one cares about your safety and security–and the safety of your family–as much as you do. You will need to take the full action that you can to stop the stalking, the harassment and the fear that this has caused.
Your first action should be to write a numbered list of the times when your boss’s wife has called you or accosted you. Make it easy for both HR and the police to read and understand. List the date and approximate time and what she did and what you did. Also list the actions your boss took when you asked him for help with the matter and what HR or your second level boss did when you reported it. Then, submit that list to HR and say that something must be done to ensure your safety at work.
You have a boss who has a mentally disturbed wife. You do not know what he tells her about you, so she could be thinking things are much worse than they are. It is bad enough that she stalks you and her husband. Even worse would be that she could harm you or your family. She certainly has created a distraction about your work. I would think your HR section would be very concerned if you state all of that clearly, especially if they have any legal advisers for situations like this.
Regarding the disturbing phone calls: You probably have some form of Caller ID on your phone. If not, get it, so you can recognize numbers and not answer. That would also allow you to clearly identify that the calls are from the wife and you could see if your phone company would take action about it. Do not answer and do not talk if you answer and there is no response. If it rises to the level of harassment, because of the number and times of calls, contact the police and make a report of phone harassment or whatever violation is appropriate for where you live.
Be aware all of the time about your surroundings. If you are being stalked by your boss’s jealous wife, she probably is in her car most of the time. Be aware of that vehicle and be on the lookout for it. If you see it, go to a place of safety and wait for her to leave the area. If she does not, call the police and report the license number and who you suspect is following you. Make it very clear that you feel stalked and harassed and you will make a complaint. You have to be willing to make a complaint and testify for the police to fully assist you..
This next is important as well: Tell your husband–and your children, if they are old enough to answer the door– to look out and see who is there first. They should not open the door to the wife or the boss at any time—and neither should you.
If you have the financial means to do it, consider asking for legal advice from an attorney. Find out what you can do and also get advice about how to best deal with it so as not to weaken your case if you do go to the police. You may want to ask if you have a good civil case against your company for failing to protect you when they know it is your boss (and his wife) that is the source of the problems.
In the future, do not, under any circumstances, get in a car with your boss unless there are others in the car. Just don’t do it. Do not take a phone call from him away from work. Do not stay after work with only your boss around or be alone in a private area with him at work, or do anything else that could be reported back to the wife. (That may be how a lot of this got started.) Many men and women have a personal rule that they will not be alone with the opposite gender at work, just for reasons like this.
My final advice is this: If you are as good an employee as your second level boss says you are, you could get a job somewhere else and maybe that is what you should do. Or, you should make it clear at your own work that you will leave if you are not given a less stressful boss to work for. The key is that you have options and you do not have to work in this situation. It will take pushing it a bit on your part.
If you have the time and wish to do so, let us know what happens and how you deal with this case of being stalked by a jealous wife. I’m sorry you and your family are being put through the situation and I hope you can get help soon.
To our readers: If you have been stalked by someone at your workplace or have had problems related to your boss’s wife being jealous of you, or any other workplace issue, look at the thousands of questions and answers in our archives. Or, send us a question, being specific enough that we can help you fully.