Workplace Breakup

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about coworker breakup:

I dated a coworker for about two years. When I broke up with him, it started to become a fatal attraction type of thing. I asked my boss if they could transfer me to a different site because of the conflict. But they didn’t take me seriously. He became violent with me especially when they told him that I wanted to transfer. How do I deal with this so I won’t be embarrassed because of the situation and neither of us lose our jobs.

Signed, No Longer Dating

Dear No Longer Dating:

You don’t describe any examples that your soured two-year relationship has taken on a “fatal attraction” or in what ways your ex-boyfriend coworker has acted violently. But if he threatened you and/or attacked you physically, embarrassment is the least of your worries. Now is it not time to face up to acts that are frightening and potentially harming? So if indeed you have been stalked and/or threatened, what should you do?

Threats of harm should be reported to the police and they should be reported to your boss and Human Resources. You say your boss didn’t take you seriously when you asked for a transfer because of the conflict. That is a mistake. It is the responsibility of your employer to separate him from you, just as it is an employer’s responsibility to investigate report of harassment and to separate a harasser from a victim. If your employer doesn’t take you seriously, you would be wise to get an attorney.

Possibly your situation is beyond reasonable discourse. By that I mean a conversation between you two mediated by third party. But it not beyond time for you to again voice your concern and fear that echoes in your email. Of course, in these times or any time, you are right to not want to say or do something that might result in his or your firing. And neither do I want either of you to lose your jobs. And if each of you is a valued employees and all you have is a vague feeling of “fatal attraction”, it is unlikely that either of you will be fired. But if you can report specific examples of that kind of behavior on the job or even outside the workplace, he could be fired. You have a right not to fear to come to work or to be stalked outside of work.Please weigh these suggestions.

Discuss this matter with a trusted friend, clergy or counselor. Don’t laugh them off or gossip about then with co-workers. If they ring true, speak firmly with your boss and Human Resources. If action of your ex are serious, you should report that to the police and seek a restraining order. We do not give legal advice, but we do recommend seeking advice of an attorney.Work is hard enough without fear. So don’t minimize or exaggerate this matter. Working together with hands, head, and heart takes (sometimes that means courage) and makes big WEGOS.

William Gorden